Can you build a successful fmcg brand without doing business with the mults? The example of Simon Gray of Boost Drinks certainly suggests you can.

Simon gave a supplier perspective on the wholesale sector at a recent FWD Introduction to Wholesale event, and his philosophy and marketing are so unique that I thought it worth exploring further what makes his company so different in outlook and spirit to the norm.

Boost was set up by Simon in 2001 when the energy drink market was in its infancy in this country, and when Red Bull dominated. Simon not only thought there was an opportunity for a value brand but actually did something about it and created Boost, selling it as a credible branded drink offering outstanding value.

He quickly achieved success in the independent sector and had the intellect and foresight to have a very clear business philosophy, realising his strengths were in brand development and that he should outsource production and concentrate on a lean and effective operational team.

”Boost has achieved unrivalled success and credibility among indies”

Since then Simon has proved extremely adept at reading the fast-developing and innovation-driven market, creating energy, sport and active variants and most recently capitalising on the sugar-free opportunity, and in a variety of sizes. This month, Boost has announced a sampling blitz for commuters and students in 12 cities.

The company has been so successful that Boost now claims to be the second-largest UK energy drink brand, employs 30 people and will turn over £30m.

What is so different about Simon’s story to that of other successful young entrepreneurs is that all this has been achieved with the product only being made available to the independent sector - and not to multiples.

Perhaps influenced by his experience as a wholesaler after leaving university and as a result of his contacts in the sector, Simon concentrated his efforts in this sector and has achieved unrivalled success and credibility among independent retailers, and their customers.

This couldn’t have been done without a successful product and business plan, but Simon has assiduously concentrated on communicating the benefits of the product and building his relationships with the sector.

Has the sector responded? The results suggest it has, although I think the uniqueness of the proposition is still not fully appreciated, and clearly support has to be backed up by sales and profit.

Is Boost unique or could others in other convenience categories replicate the model? I don’t know, but I salute Simon and hope the sector continues to recognise his unique proposition.