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Panther M*lk ready to pounce on supermarket deals with new funding

Glasgow-made Panther M-lk is gearing up for significant expansion

THE founder of Glasgow-made Panther M*lk – an alcoholic oat drink cocktail – is gearing up for significant expansion and targeting revenues of £1 million in 2023, following talks with a number of major UK retailers.

Paul Crawford, who appeared on BBC’s Dragon’s Den in March, is planning a major increase in production volumes next year, from hundreds of bottles per month to potentially tens of thousands in response to rising demand. 

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Paul recently received a £17,500 loan through the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme and Transmit Startups to support the company’s growth and expects to launch a series A fundraise early next year to help fulfil order volumes. 

During the Covid-19 pandemic, Paul was made redundant from his role with a tech start up and decided to focus on developing the Panther M*lk brand, which began as a side project.

The popularity of Panther M*lk has soared since it was first sold from a secret pop-up bar on Glasgow’s Mitchell Lane. In October 2020, a new sustainable oat drink recipe was launched and this summer Paul took the brand on the road with a converted horse box, known as the Panthermobile, visiting some of Scotland’s biggest festivals and events. 

After securing contracts with well-known restaurants, bars and hotel chains in Glasgow, Paul is setting his sights on the UK retail market and also hopes to grow the business’ headcount.

Paul Crawford said: “This year our focus has been on getting the brand out there and while we’ve got a strong following in Glasgow already, it would be great to see Panther M*lk enjoyed all over the UK. Appearing on Dragon’s Den was brilliant for exposure and even though the deal with Deborah Meaden didn’t go through in the end, her advice and guidance since the show has been invaluable and we still keep in touch.   

“Panther M*lk was the world’s first ready-to-drink oat drink cocktail and we have worked hard to build a sustainable brand with support from consultants at Dark Art Drinks. We’ve picked up a number of awards and, most recently, we were Vegan Friendly certified. Our packaging is fully recyclable with labels now printed using organic ink and we’re committed to retaining our environmentally friendly approach as production ramps up.

“Finance is a critical element of our expansion programme and it’s great to have had support through Transmit Startups and the Start Up Loans scheme. It is an exciting time for Panther M*lk and our ambitious growth plans are already underway. Glasgow will always be the brand’s home, but we hope that conversations with UK-wide supermarkets could lead to a much wider geographical spread.”

Panther M*lk is one of almost 900 small businesses in Glasgow to receive a Start Up Loan from the British Business Bank. Combined, entrepreneurs in the city have received more than £7.4 million in funding to help set up their own businesses since the programme was launched in 2012. 

Barry McCulloch, senior manager, UK Network, Scotland at the British Business Bank, said: “Panther M*lk has quickly become a cult favourite in Glasgow and the business has gone from strength to strength in its first two years. During lockdown, a new wave of entrepreneurs decided to take their ideas to the next level and we are pleased to support ambitious and creative founders like Paul. The Start Up Loans programme was established to provide funding through a range of delivery partners, as well as offering support for additional business activities such as marketing, accounting and business development.”

Morag Kelly, business advisor, Transmit Startups, said: “Paul has used his unique ideas and previous experience of selling cocktails to create this incredible vegan drink. After using his Start Up Loan to purchase the horsebox, it’s great to see the Panthermobile out and about, professionally wrapped in Panther M*lk branding. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure for Transmit Startups to play a part in Paul’s story.”

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