Start-Up Stories – KURO Gin
The gin market is continuing it’s high growth across the UK. If gin is your thing, you’re spoilt for choice! In this chapter of Start-Up Stories we spoke to Craig Fell, the founder of KURO Gin. He has some awesome advice for fellow entrepreneurs and a key insight in to the gin market…
What is KURO Gin?
KURO is a range of premium British gins born out adventure and travel whilst on a snowboarding trip to Japan. There are currently 3 gins in our range:
Signature London Dry Gin 43% – our original release and our attempt at bottling the Japanese Alps. Using earthy botanicals like bamboo, spruce needles and silver birch bark, we captured an aromatic profile with an intriguing alpine twist.
Cherry Blossom Gin 40% – we take our signature gin and combine it with a compound created from the pink petals of the Sakura tree. A floral and naturally sweet pink gin with a very apparent and important juniper base.
Soft Peach Gin 40% – we take our signature gin and combine it with a compound created from white peach. A fruity and fragrant gin with a very apparent juniper base.
The gin market is becoming saturated as its popularity grows, what makes you guys stand out?
There’s no doubt our packaging gives us real consumer appeal, and winning the 2018 IWSC Gold Outstanding for bottle design solidifies that. One of the key differences between us and our competitors is in our approach to sales. We are more selective over who we work with in the UK and focus on activating export markets where gin is still emerging. So, in the UK we are seen as premium with listings in Harrods, Harvey Nichols and a lot of premium independents who we love to work with. This gives us a platform of brand integrity that stimulates the export markets well and has secured distribution in 7 other European territories within our first 2 years!
Do you think gin will continue it’s growth? Or can we expect the likes of rum to take the spotlight?
“I don’t think it’s an either/or situation. I think gin and rum can grow together. Will rum overtake gin in sales? No. But will have it’s resurgence in the same way it did around 10 years ago? Yes.”
The one thing I fear for in the rum market is the same thing that’s wrong with the gin market, liqueurs. For example: “20% black jack flavoured rum spirit”, only this time I think this will kick in a lot quicker than it did in the gin markets’ recent boom. Gin has been on the up since 2008, but the weak sugary liqueurs only really took hold around three years ago, rum has barely got going and you are already seeing signs of it happening.
How important is establishing your brand when releasing a new product into the market?
In a saturated market it’s very important (particularly with our strategy of aiming for premium as we knew this would make it hard for us to reach mass audience unlike a volume approach) where your listings are. It might be a bar group with a 1000 bars in the UK at rock bottom prices. The exposure of your brand at that level is enough to establish it, where as we have to work a little harder on the consumer festival circuits etc.
What’s the company culture like at KURO Gin?
We are still very small so it’s super tight knit. We are all friends and we work together with common goals.
“The people in our business are all self motivated and understand what the opportunities are.”
We are very lucky as we have a diverse range of skill sets in a small team, making us quite a force when momentum is in our favour.
If you had to describe KURO Gin in 3 words, what would they be?
Aspirational. Delicious. Seductive
If you could give one piece advice to yourself when you first decided to start an FMCG business, what would it be?
Start it lean to keep the fire burning. We were lucky to be designers and marketers and I’d helped bring other gins to market before my own, so I knew it was something I could contribute to. We’ve designed the bottles website. We went out and sold it for the first 18 months. If we had incurred huge expense by other people doing this for us the pressure would certainly take the shine off.
Where can people find your gorgeous gins?
You can find them online in many of the usual places like Master of Malt or through retailers like Harvey Nichols. You can also find lots more information about the brand on our own website here.
What does the future hold for KURO Gin?
The future is bright for KURO! We are in product development mode at the moment, with some great new ideas coming forward. We are also looking for investors to help take us to the next level. We’re ready to go big with this as we are confident the foundations are in place to grow our gin brand on a global scale. So if anyone reading this is interested please reach out to us.
Be sure to check out their website here for more info and grab yourself a bottle or two!