tonic water

Britvic is set to challenge the dominance of Fever-Tree in the premium mixers category with the launch of a completely new range, The Grocer understands.

Under the umbrella of the newly created London Essence Company - registered at the same Hemel Hempstead address as Britvic’s offices - the drinks giant is expected to launch the new range of mixers via the UK on-trade in September, as it seeks a piece of the action in the fast-growing premium mixers category, which is dominated (and indeed was created) by Fever-Tree.

Established in 2005, Fever-Tree increased sales by 71% to £59.3m last year and is now sold in more than 50 countries around the world. Its share price since floating on AIM in November 2014 has more than quintupled and is currently valued at £848m. It’s worth £14.7m in retail value sales terms in the UK off-trade [IRI 52 w/e 30 January 2016].

Other soft drinks manufacturers have also enjoyed strong growth in the mixers category, with Fentimans’ sales increasing 28.7% over the past year [IRI], while Bottlegreen and Global Brands both introduced premium mixers recently.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Enterprises invested in the “biggest campaign in 20 years” for Schweppes in April, with a revamped pack design to showcase its premium credentials featuring new-look black labels that boast of Schweppes’ heritage as the ‘creator of bubbles since 1783’.

Britvic already sells Britvic and Britvic Club-branded mixers, but it has developed the new brand to tap into the premium mixers category on a global basis, The Grocer understands.

Last month Britvic set up another company, WiseHead Productions, as an incubator for a new category of ‘zero proof’ alcohol alternatives. Its first NPD, the lightly sparkling Thomas & Evans No. 1, is for sale in Harvey Nichols.