Tasting success with gin: adapting to changing trends

The story behind Terry Langton and we are Turncoat

Posted by Liverpool John Moores University

Wed 14th, Nov

Adaptability and the ability to weather changes and fluctuations in the marketplace provide a useful means to deliver business success. Given the changing landscape of consumer demands and trends it is often challenging for small businesses to innovate quickly enough. Even with the finances and might of a large customer base, some major high street retail chains and household names have fallen victim to changes in consumer shopping trends.

There is a growing recognition that small and agile is the way forward. The case of “We are Turncoat” illustrates the importance of being able to adapt and make changes, having a real passion for your product and efficient management of cash flow, in order to run a successful business and develop a brand. Mirroring the examples of illustrious entrepreneurs, Terry Langton started his craft brewing business from the garage of his house in 2010, while pursuing a degree in Business Management and Economics at Liverpool John Moores University. In 2012, he completed his degree, which coincided with a time when local bars and restaurants demanded local products. While his craft beer attracted this burgeoning market, it was a time of trial and error, trying to find the appropriate brand to draw the attention of consumers to his product. In 2014, he found a gap in Liverpool’s market with the ‘Love Lane Pale Ale’, which helped the firm enjoy growth. This growth was also spotted by a large brewery, which made an offer to buy Terry’s business.

Before the transaction was completed, Terry’s passion for beverages led him to venture into the world of gin production, which was on a clear upward trend. The sale of this business allowed him to turn his attention to establishing a distillery. The ability to recognise this trend and appetite in the market place helped Terry focus upon delivering a quality product that was clearly in demand.

All too often businesses forget about the bottom line, to ensure that the company makes sufficient returns and continues to trade. Prudence and a financial cushion are vital not only in the start-up phase but in ensuring business longevity. Terry contends that he not only planned for less optimistic sales but considered the potential that some creditors would end up defaulting on payments. “With the cash flow you put your business plan to the test… everything becomes realistic”.

An approach that is often underutilised but provides a valuable means to increase margin gains is through shortening ‘the distance’ between production and the end consumer, essentially removing middlemen in the transaction. Not only can this be more profitable but it also enables brand control. For Terry, being the face of the business requires constant meeting and talking to external stakeholders; these activities are precursors in keeping margins as significant as possible and controlling the brand.

It is equally true that the business often reflects the personality of the owner. The passion for the beverage industry, creativity in developing new gin flavours and even in the branding, ‘turning coat’ from brewing to distilling, are all emblematic of Terry. Indeed, his ability to adapt, change and spot trends in the market has provided a mouth watering recipe for success. (http://weareturncoat.com/) That is why we are delighted that Terry has been working with the research team, providing business insights to our students since 2016. This engagement has also allowed Terry to gain exposure, and in the process help him expand and widen his customer base.

This is the first of a series of articles from the Liverpool Business School, Liverpool John Moores University, focussing on contemporary issues for local businesses. The research team, Dr Abel D. Alonso, Dr Seng Kok, and Dr Seamus O’Brien, have completed a range of projects nationally and internationally (Western Europe, Oceania, Latin America) since 2006. Their research predominantly focuses on family, micro and small businesses in the areas of international business, innovation, socioeconomic development, and sustainability. For more information contact: a.alonso@ljmu.ac.uk

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