Business

Boatyard distillery takes new investors' cash into hand . . .

Joe McGirr, founder of the Boatyard Distillery
Gary McDonald Business Editor

A DISTILLERY which has been producing gin and vodka on the shores of Lough Erne is using a new tranche of investors' money to add alcohol-infused hand sanitiser to its range.

And from this week the new product, which uses ethanol normally used in drinks production and which is manufactured to World Health Organisation specifications, will go on sale in Tesco stores in Northern Ireland.

It comes as the Boatyard Distillery confirmed that it has successfully closed a £634,000 investment round, including £460,000 came from the Halo Business Angel Network (HBAN), a joint-venture between Enterprise Ireland, InterTradeIreland and Invest NI.

Founded by Joe McGirr, the Boatyard began production in Enniskillen four years ago, becoming Co Fermanagh’s first legal distillery in more than 130 years.

Situated at Tully Bay Marina, it secured deals with supermarket chains M&S and Waitrose to stock its gin and vodka products across Great Britain and Ireland.

But in response to the coronavirus crisis, it has diversified into hand sanitiser, and in recent weeks has given away more than 1,200 litres its product to front line services in Fermanagh including to NHS key workers and supermarket staff, and is now selling to customers in other industries, both locally and internationally.

Mr McGirr said: “We're thrilled to secure this investment and excited about the unique experience our new investors will bring, particularly when it comes to growing our presence overseas.

“The gin market remains highly competitive but we offer something different, with some botanicals grown on the family farm.

“Right now, Covid-19 has interrupted some of our immediate plans but we have responded to the situation by being innovative and using our expertise to produce a product that is not only in high demand but which our health service and key workers desperately need..”

Brian Cummings, investment director at Clarendon Fund Managers, which manages HBAN in the north, said: “Joe has continued to diversify the Boatyard's product offering, which has led to international success with a number of new global distribution deals agreed.

“Their ability to quickly pivot into the production of hand sanitiser demonstrates what an innovative business this is, and we're delighted to see Boatyard attracting new investment from our network.”

HBAN (www.hban.org) gives companies the opportunity to pitch for business investment as well as access to business angels. Anyone interested in joining the network and taking part in its next remote pitch event on May 27 should contact C.Owens@clarendon-fm.co.uk.

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