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Self-made Gloucestershire businessmen toast rescue of award-winning drinks brand

Written by: Andrew Merrell | Posted 26 June 2020 8:14

Self-made Gloucestershire businessmen toast rescue of award-winning drinks brand

Two self-made businessmen from Gloucestershire will not be short of fine spirits to toast their latest deal after stepping in to takeover one of the best British rum brands. 

James Strickland and Raymond Pugh were part of the team which founded, grew and then sold the successful Stonehouse-based recruitment firm Passionate About People in September 2018. 

Now they are back, moving to takeover Cheltenham business Neptune Rum, after the brand – winner of 65 global awards since 2018, Best British rum brand and best Barbados rum – hit financial difficulties as a result of covid-19. 

Ambitious plans, including an aim to securing world-wide travel retail distribution, fell victim to the pandemic which is said to have had a “huge economic impact”, forcing the firm into administration. 

Mr Strickland and Mr Pugh stepped in on June 18 and bought the business – which distils its spirits at the Four-Square Distillery in Barbados - and its assets from the administrator, KRE Corporate Recovery. Bristol law firm Shaw & Co is said to have “managed the deal” alongside John Workman of Cheltenham’s BPE Solicitors. 

Mr Strickland said: “It was an excellent business opportunity for both Raymond and I. Of course, this is only the first step; much work is still required to secure the long-term future of the company.” 

In Gloucestershire the rum was on sale in bars and resturants including 131, The Daffodil, The Clarence Social, Coco Lush in Cheltenham and  Cafe Rene and Raffles Wines in Gloucester and the business has been headline sponsor at Lakefest and the only rum brand available at the world famous Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

Paul Ellison, partner and the lead administrator from KRE Corporate Recovery, said there was “considerable interest” in Neptune from more than 65 individuals. 

It was, he said, “impressive determination” on the part of the Gloucestershire businessmen that won the day.

Jim Shaw, founder and CEO of Shaw & Co, said: “This represents the start of a new chapter and for Neptune Rum it gives a platform the future, which was otherwise looking in doubt. The brand is international, but with headquarters in Cheltenham the deal maintains vibrancy in the local economy.” 

Mr Workman, of BPE, said: “We are pleased to have been involved in this deal and to see investment in a local brand especially at this time. We are looking forward to seeing Neptune Rum go from strength to strength.”

The new owners are said to have ambitious plans for the business, including significant investment.  

The objective is to enable Neptune Rum to recover from the devastating effects of the pandemic, and to resume its growth plans.