Couple forging ahead with Wakefield gin-making firm as demand soars

A couple who launched a successful gin company have been given a financial boost to help move to larger premises.

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 7:00 am

Soaring demand for the spirit has left Gary and Victoria Ford, of Forged in Wakefield looking for a new home for their company.

And thanks to a £25,000 growth grant, the award-winning company will relocate from Sandal to Tileyard North, the new business centre being built at the former Rutland Mills next to the Hepworth Gallery.

The move means they can fit in a new 300-litre still, offer distillery tours, run a gin school and a bar.

Gary and Vicky Ford with Coun Darren Byford.
Gary and Vicky Ford with Coun Darren Byford.

The company has been given the grant by AD:VENTURE, which helps ambitious new businesses trading for less than three years in North and West Yorkshire.

Gary said: “Vicky and I had no idea what was involved in running a small business when we started.

"We have learnt along the way and made a lot of mistakes in the process. At the moment we distil the gin, act as the salesforce, maintain the website, develop new flavours and a million other things.

"Moving into the premises will mean we can employ staff and take the business to the next phase of its development.”

Forged in Wakefield has picked up several awards fir their tipples.

“It took in the region of six months to gain all the licences required to become a distillery. It was a massive learning curve and we nearly gave up at one point."

"It’s our passion and dream and we always find a way to make it work. We are planning to take on at least five staff before the end of 2021 to help cope with demand and to work in the bar.”

Formerly known as Fords of Wakefield, the company was set up four years ago.

The small batch gin, which is produced in eight flavours, including The Original, Yorkshire Strength, Passionfruit and Lemon Sherbet, is certified organic and vegan.

The current still can produce around 90 bottles of gin in eight hours, but the new premises will mean they can invest in a new still which can produce three times as much, and can make other products, such as vodka and rum.

Victoria and Gary are also moving bottle production from France to Yorkshire to reduce their carbon footprint, and are having a custom-designed bottle developed.

The gin is sold to the public via the Forged in Wakefield website and to about 50 farm shops, bars, restaurants and clubs, and the couple are currently negotiating to export to Norway.

They have won several awards for their drinks.

Gary said: “It is difficult to appreciate just what is involved in running a small business unless you have walked that path. Small business owners, including ourselves, often work 80 to 90 hour weeks; so our time is spread very thinly."

Coun Darren Byford, cabinet member for economic growth, regeneration and property at Wakefield Council, said: “Forged in Wakefield is exactly what it says, a great company and product forged in our district which is full of amazing creative people doing amazing things.

“Giving support to early stage businesses through the AD:VENTURE programme really pays off in the long run as it helps these businesses to thrive and create jobs and greater economic prosperity for us all.”