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Orkney family business sees increase in sales after appearing on James Martin’s Saturday Morning

03/04/2024

The award-winning business accessed support from Business Gateway, Scotland’s national business advisory service, to help start-up and develop their operations

An Orkney family business has enjoyed a dramatic increase in sales and social media followers, after one of its products appeared on James Martin’s Saturday Morning, which showcases recipes and products to a range of celebrity guests.

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The Orkney Gin Company, founded by husband-and-wife team Gary and Andrea Watt, uses a traditional process to distil its spirits, which include gin, vodka and Scotland’s first akvavit.

The team hand-picks its base botanicals, distils the spirits slowly up to eight times, and hand-fills and corks its Selkie Folk inspired bottles, which are designed in-house in a nod to Orkney’s history and folklore.

Wholesalers make up the majority of The Orkney Gin Company’s customer base, but its products are also sold by Trade, John Lewis, Amazon and other online outlets, as well as its own website.  

After securing their operating license in 2015, Gary and Andrea initially approached Business Gateway for support in starting-up, and received advice on their business plan and help to secure their first premises.

Gary Watt, Co-owner and Distiller at The Orkney Gin Company, said: “We’re passionate about our Orcadian roots and about gin, so we knew we were capable of creating something amazing when we first approached Business Gateway for help to set-up.

“We truly thought our business would remain a local one, but we’ve enjoyed steady demand over the years, which snowballed after we won our first World Gin Award.”

The business saw a particularly large spike in sales after its Aatta gin, Christmas Old Tom gin and Orkney Akvavit appeared on James Martin’s Saturday Morning programme in late 2023.

Gary continued: “We were approached by James and his team at a Country Living Fair in 2022 and couldn’t quite believe it. We are a small-scale family business at heart, so were very proud that someone with James’ profile liked our gin so much.”

As well as a sales increase, The Orkney Gin Company has also secured additional trade customers, and has grown its website subscribers and social media following since the programme’s broadcast. The business also saw a sales increase for its Orkney Akvavit.

Looking ahead, Gary and Andrea are now turning their attention towards securing larger premises to keep up with product demand, with the overall goal to introduce a visitor centre to make the most of Orkney’s tourism.

Gary said: “We would love to open up a visitor centre in Orkney, and will certainly be reaching out to Business Gateway for advice on this next step in our journey. They’ve already signposted us to various Covid Bounce Back funding schemes, which have been so helpful for keeping our operations afloat.

“Business Gateway has been a great support to our business operations over the years, so I’ve no doubt their continued support will be valuable as we enter this next chapter.”

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