A SCOTTISH business that has created snacks around the marriage of food and drink is on track for its first £1 million turnover this year after landing a seven-figure contract with Waitrose, a deal with a major airline, and significant expansion in the US and UAE.

The Edinburgh-based Drinks Bakery, founded by Andy Murray (not that one), has hailed its latest milestone as breaking into the United Arab Emirates with a contract with Spinneys for a range of snacks for alcohol-free drinks.

Mr Murray had early memories of how food and drink can complement one another.

“I grew up in a food-obsessed family, and dad would chuck us all in the back of a campervan and go off to Europe and travel around France and Italy and Spain and places like that,” he said.

HeraldScotland: Andy Murray won investment from Dragons’ Den stars Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. Picture: Drinks BakeryAndy Murray won investment from Dragons’ Den stars Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. Picture: Drinks Bakery (Image: Drinks Bakery)

“He had a healthy obsession with aperitifs and different wines and mum would aways make a little something to go with the aperitif wherever we were, so it kind of became part of our family DNA, and having a little snack with a little drink was pretty normal for us.

“Fast forward many years and I became wine-qualified, I had a wine business, gastro pub, and corporate entertainment business in Edinburgh, and I saw these amazing drinks businesses flying at the time, around the 2000s, 2010 mark, with the BrewDogs of this world, it was amazing, but the snack sector wasn’t really keeping pace with the development that was happening in the drinks sector.

“I returned back to what mum and dad always did and I thought why isn’t there something that is more premium, more thoughtful, and you can think about what you are eating with what you are drinking, in a snack form.

“So that is when I really rolled my sleeves up and developed the range of flavours and did the profiling with different drinks to balance and match the flavours.”

READ MORE: Drinks Bakery secures Waitrose listing for biscuits

There was a period of about three years’ development then the business was launched into Edinburgh in 2017.

It went into a network of local independents in the Scottish capital, like Herbie’s in Stockbridge, and Ian Mellis cheese stores across the city.

“Then I got an opportunity to go on Dragons' Den and that came around pretty early in the business. It was an interesting experience and obviously pretty positive for me. I got Peter [Jones] and Deborah [Meaden] on board and that gave me the confidence to start pushing the brand into different sectors.

“So it has kind of grown up. We went through Covid, went online and became more of a digital business. Before Covid it was all through wholesale food distributors.

“Post-Covid, we managed to get onto Aer Lingus transatlantic business class so it is all front of the bus stuff. It is the perfect product for their premium passengers on the transatlantic flights.

“Waitrose took us on just recently so that was a big breakthrough for us as well. We’ve grown from a small independent business to all of a sudden being distributed across 230 Waitrose stores in the UK.

“That was a big step-change.”

HeraldScotland: The move follows contracts with Selfridges, Liberty of London and Claridge’s Hotel. Picture: Drinks BakeryThe move follows contracts with Selfridges, Liberty of London and Claridge’s Hotel. Picture: Drinks Bakery (Image: Drinks Bakery)

He continued: “We’ve been exporting for a number of years into places like Denmark, Norway and Sweden. Not in a massive way, but we have always had a premium audience out there.

“I have been focusing on North America for the last couple of years

UAE is also a significant market, he said.

“It is a premium snack, it does cost a few pennies more than your normal crisps and nuts [packs range from £2 to £6 depending on size] .

“You look for the markets that are going to suit your product. The UAE is quite a premium market and one of the best outlets is Spinneys.

Spinneys customers in the UAE will soon be able to select snacks linked to non-alcoholic drinks from the Drinks Bakery flavours.

Parmesan, toasted pine nuts and basil biscuits, for example, pair with sparkling white grape juice, while Drinks Bakery says "a hoppy 0% beer" will go with the Lancashire cheese and spring onion flavour.

Pecorino, rosemary and seaweed is linked with juniper-style gin alternatives for the UAE, while it can be found pairing the flavours such as classic gin and tonic preparations in the UK. 

"Spinneys look after Waitrose out there and have their own stores as well."

However, in order to further grow into emerging sales channels, investment is required, he said.

“We are at that tipping point to hopefully we can go on and make the business much bigger. We’ve doubled the size of our business year on year in the last three years and that is including in Covid.

"Our last turnover was about £400,000, and we are going to more than double that by the end of this trading year, so up towards about £1 million turnover.”

He said: “It has been really well received in the US and we’ve got some big plans but we need to be able to execute them, so we are probably going to need some more money.

“There’s a couple of ways we can do it. We can get some private investment but also crowdfunding.

“We’ve got some great followers, some people who love the brand, love te product, so crowdfunding wouldn’t be out for the question, but I would love to be a bit more strategic than that and try and get some private investors on board, particularly from Scotland.

“There is a lot of really experienced bakers who have been there and seen it and done it in Scotland and some of these guys are still around. Some might have retired, but if I can entice a few out of retirement to come and help me that would be my preference.”


What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?

I’ve been lucky enough to travel around the world and experience many aperitif cultures but keep returning to Spain, and for good reason. Food and drink is at the heart of Spanish culture and I particularly like the small plate, sharing experiences. My ideal spot is San Sebastian Old Town beside the Atlantic, exploring the narrow Pinchos lanes. Heaven!

When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?

I figured that being an airline pilot would be cool because you could travel anywhere in the world.

What was your biggest break in business?

I guess appearing on Dragon’s Den was a big moment. It wasn’t necessarily a big break financially but served to confirm the business proposition was good and it gave me the confidence to kick on.

What was your worst moment in business?

Covid hit just a few weeks after I’d sealed a deal with a large airline and I’d just baked out 200,000 packs of Drinks Biscuits in anticipation of the first big order. Oops.

Who do you most admire and why?

Yvon Chouinard the founder of Patagonia fashion brand, for staying true to his values from the outset and then giving it all away. What a truly astonishing man.

What book are you reading, what was the last film you saw and what music are you listening to?

Let my people go surfing by Yvon Chouinard (see above question). If you’re talking ‘a trip to the movies’ then it was the new Top Gun movie. I took my sons to see it and it was fantastic!! Breath-taking stuff, proper blockbuster fun. I love a wide variety of music including soul, jazz, Motown, and all things indie. Suede have just released a new album after many years of silence and they’re sounding better than ever. I also just got tickets to see Mogwai in December – they make incredible noise.