Summerhouse Drinks’ COVID-19 recovery

Summerhouse Drinks new packaging

A soft drinks company, whose business dropped by 60% after lockdown, developed a new packaging solution to help it adapt to the changes brought by the pandemic.

As restaurants, cafes and most shops closed, Aberdeenshire-based Summerhouse Drinks had far fewer physical outlets for its craft lemonades and sodas.

The company had no online presence, as the amount of packaging required to send out a few small glass bottles was unsustainable and unviable.

A packaging solution for online sales

Summerhouse won support from Innovate UK’s COVID-19 support programme to develop its idea for an innovative packaging solution and to launch an online sales programme.

Claire Rennie, founder of Summerhouse Drinks, said:

We’ve been going for six years, but we’ve never gone online. To send things out safely you must use a huge amount of bubble wrap.

All the money you make in the product is getting lost in the time it takes to package it. It’s also adding so much more plastic to the world that we don’t need.

Claire had been playing around with ideas for packaging. The support from Innovate UK allowed Summerhouse to develop her idea with the help of the Pitreavie Group packaging company.

The simple cardboard design wraps around the bottles and holds them in suspension.

Sparkling success

Claire added:

The power of online and safe packaging means that we can use local and seasonal products that might otherwise go to waste. You don’t have to get a listing at a supermarket or plan six months ahead. You can be really nimble.

The company is launching its online sales in time for the Christmas period. It is planning to increase sales in the UK first and then expand sales to mainland Europe and the USA. It is already seeing some export sales.

Claire said:

We had just come out of a lean period after Christmas when lockdown happened. We then saw a 60% drop in our turnover. There was nothing in the coffers. Having a grant paid upfront from Innovate UK made this project happen and has saved our business.

It’s been a phenomenal opportunity for us to develop something that hopefully will also be useful to the wider food and drink industry as well as being massively significant to our business.

Last updated: 18 August 2023

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