The impact of Covid-19 has thrown the drinks and hospitality sectors together like never before. Although on the one hand it has been incredibly tough for so many businesses and individuals it has also been a year of inspiration and collaboration as people and companies have come together for the greater good. The launch of the new Trust Water brand is a perfect example of our times. The work of three former colleagues who have joined forces to use their drinks industry expertise to create a brand they hope can raise at least £500,000 for The Drinks Trust. Richard Siddle finds out how.
Trust Water is an idea – and a brand – that has come out of the collaborative spirit forged between former drinks industry colleagues – James Burston, Mark Bickerton and Richard Bailey.
How did the idea for Trust Water come about?
Mark Bickerton: James and I worked together at Gaymers Cider about 12 years ago. We reconnected over LinkedIn during lockdown, talking about the trials and tribulations of homeschooling. After a catch up on what we have been up to, James talked about The Drinks Trust, and the great work it is doing. At that point, I don’t think we appreciated just how big the need for its services would be. Our spiralling chat went from us joining as business partners, to producing a TDT branded aluminium bottle for them to sell to raise funds, to ultimately us creating a brand, Trust Water, with a range of sizes and formats to meet the needs of any hospitality venue.
How have you brought the team together to make this happen?
Mark Bickerton: Richard Bailey and I have worked together for a few years now and as soon as James and I finished our conversation, I called Richard to bring him in on the opportunity. I knew that with Richard’s background, not only in hospitality, but as a water supplier to the sector, he would be able to work with me on creating the best offering. We all wanted to give back to industry through the biggest charity donation per bottle our sector had seen.
Where are you sourcing the water from and what is the logistics involved in terms of bottling and getting it to market?
Richard Bailey: Our still and sparkling British spring water is drawn from a premium English spring and bottled at source in the heart of Herefordshire. The unique sandstone geology below the spring is responsible for our subtle blend of healthy minerals and the crystal clear spring water. Its excellent composition and superior taste make Trust Water a top quality premium bottled spring water.
Our water is drawn from protected land and bottled fresh daily in the state of the art factory. Trust Water is refreshing and crystal clear, bottled in small batches and highly acclaimed for its quality and taste.
We are very much geared up for direct supply from our spring to a customer and we are fully prepared to work through a distributor. We know how the trade works and prepared for all eventualities.
Is it a two-pronged approach? Do you sell the bottles of the water, but then encourage people to re-use the bottles?
Mark Bickerton: This is certainly the case with the flagship product in the aluminium bottle. Our aim for this is to:
- Reduce: We use 100% recycled aluminium, reducing not only plastic but use of raw aluminium.
- Remove: The lightweight bottle removes the need for single use plastic.
- Re-use: You can re-use your Trust Water bottle as much as you like.
- Recycle: We call this “re:recycle”. Our bottle is made from 100% recycled aluminium and is widely recyclable across the UK. It is important to note that aluminium is infinitely recyclable.
What donation from the bottle goes to The Drinks Trust?
James Burston: Based on a whole number of variables and assumptions from sectors, bottle types, retailer/distributor margins etc, then we believe around 7p a bottle* or £1.40 per 9 litre case equivalent. The best charity donation is built into the aluminium bottles, so to context, 10 cases of aluminium would pay for one call into our 24:7 helpline number and 30 cases would pay for a Dr Julian counselling session. (*compared to other charity waters, this compares favourably to an average of between 1p and 3p a bottle.)
How much are you looking to raise through Trust Water?
Mark Bickerton: Our goal is to raise £500,000 per annum but this is entirely dependent on whether the key decision makers in the industry are prepared to make a simple switch over to Trust Water. We will need some of the big guys to step in to support this brilliant cause and we expect a steady ground swell ripple effect off the back of this.
Trust Water is also part of a wider initiative to drive some cause-based marketing initiatives with the Drinks Trust – can you explain what this involves and what other projects there are?
James Burston: As the charity’s traditional and largest revenue streams have been most hit – i.e. annual business partner donations and busy events calendar/individual fundraisers – then new revenue streams are of vital importance. For example, we are also working with the people behind Citizen.wine to create some hospitality themed wine labels, with a built in donation back to The Drinks Trust. We encourage brand owners and service providers to continue to be as creative as they were in 2020, to deliver much needed charity revenue.
You all come from different backgrounds in the drinks industry? Can you explain your backgrounds? Why did you want to get involved in a project to help The Drink Trust?
Mark Bickerton: My background is primarily from drinks, with the likes of Diageo, Anheuser Busch, and have been running my own agency since 2007 – focusing on brand development, consultancy and field marketing events. Richard was previously a hotelier, and has been running his own water business for many years. James has worked in the sector for many years and held the position of sales and marketing director at Hildon Water previously and most recently has been working with The Drinks Trust, where this all started. Ben has a wealth of experience in the Horeca sector, albeit from a very different standpoint.
Although we are all from slightly different backgrounds with experience in slightly different sectors, the common bond between us is we are absolutely passionate about the people, our colleagues, who make our drinks and hospitality sector amongst the best in the world. We are all deeply concerned about the effects of the pandemic on our industry and feel it’s time to give back.
What have been the challenges along the way in getting the brand and bottles to market?
Mark Bickerton: As with any start up, it is all a steep learning curve. Working on a very tight budget that is coming from our own pockets drives us to be as creative as possible. We are very lucky to have been working with the likes of Abi at Barlow & Co to create our distinctive branding for a lot less that they would ordinarily command, as it feels like the right thing to do. It is wonderful that so many industry professionals believe in Trust Water and want to support us to make it work.
What have been the highlights you have been able to enjoy from the initiative?
James Burston: Knowing the difference £500,000 will make to our industry people, having read all of the testimonials (and fist pumped at cocktail events) from beneficiaries of not only financial support, but emotional and vocational help, provided by The Drinks Trust.
Mark Bickerton: The key highlight for me is working with a great team of people who want this to work. From the guys at The Drinks Trust who have been so supportive to Stuart at Dry Drinker, our first customer, everyone has given their time because it’s simply the right thing to do.
What next for Trust Water?
James Burston: We are in discussions with Water Logic UK about possibly being able to create refill stations not only in the off-trade and food-to-go sectors, but also in an on-trade setting. Trust Water could well be at the forefront of an eco water bottle revolution, eliminating millions of tonnes of single use waste.
We have turned this project around at breakneck speed and our premium range looks and tastes fantastic. We have done our bit and we now need our industry colleagues and friends at all levels to get behind Trust Water, to list it, purchase it and talk about it. We want to raise £500,000 for our colleagues that need it the most – we have made the first positive ripple, so please help us to turn ripples to waves.
- For more information or to shop online, go to www.trust-water.co.uk.
- You can contact James Burston at firstname.lastname@example.org.