Nix Kix

Adult soft drinks start-up Nix & Kix has secured almost £500,000 from industry heavyweights to raise brand awareness and expand its team ahead of expected rapid growth in 2018.

The investment round of £460,000 was made up of a group of high net worth individuals, including John Stapleton, the co-founder of New Covent Garden and Little Dish, and ex-Unilever executive Harry Tullis, who left the consumer goods giant this year after more than 20 years in a variety of roles.

They join existing non-executive director Matthew Cushen, co-founder of Worth Capital, in supporting the Nix & Kix founders Kerstin Robinson and Julia Kessler.

The brand is positioned as a healthy grown-up alternative to alcoholic drinks, with the three-strong lineup all containing a cayenne kick, coming in at less than 5g sugar per 100ml, low in calories and with no artificial additives.

Nix & Kix launched its 750ml bottles into 300 Waitrose stores this summer and the 330ml bottles hit 80 Tesco stores this week, with the full range also in Ocado. It is also stocked by cafés, restaurants, bars and shops in London.

The current three variants are mango & ginger, cucumber & mint and peach & vanilla. - lines are sold in a 750ml sharing glass bottle, a 330ml glass bottle and a 250ml can.

“A full flavour profile usually comes from sweetness but if a drink is less sweet there needs to be something else there to keep taste buds happy,” co-founder Kerstin Robinson said.

“We have always struggled finding a great tasting, less boring and healthier soft drinks choice as a refreshment during the day or alternative to alcohol at night, so we created our own range - and that is Nix & Kix.

“We plan to spend the incoming funds on building our brand through market awareness initiatives while also developing the team to resource adequately the significant growth we anticipate in 2018.”

John Stapleton added that there was high demand from retailers ahead of the sugar levy coming into force for brands that take sugar out of the category, with consumers also looking for ways to reduce their sugar intake.

“We are well below the sugar tax threshold and are positioned in a growing market, supplying a much-heralded consumer need - sugar is persona non grata,” he said. “The team is really proactive, smart and great to work with, so I’m excited about the future for Nix & Kix.”