By Ian McConnell

The founder of Panther M*lk – an alcoholic oat milk cocktail made in Glasgow – plans to ramp up production and is targeting revenues of £1 million in 2023 following talks with major UK retailers.

Paul Crawford, who appeared on the BBC’s Dragons’ Den in March, aims to increase production volumes next year from hundreds of bottles per month to potentially tens of thousands in response to rising demand. Mr Crawford, who was made redundant from his role with a technology start-up amid the coronavirus pandemic and decided to focus on developing the Panther M*lk brand which had begun as a side project, expressed hopes that talks with UK-wide supermarkets “could lead to a much wider geographical spread”.

Panther M*lk was first sold from a pop-up bar on Glasgow’s Mitchell Lane. In October 2020, a new sustainable oat drink recipe was launched and Paul took the brand on the road in summer this year with a converted horse box known as the “Panthermobile”, visiting some of Scotland’s biggest festivals and events.

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Mr Crawford has secured contracts to supply restaurants, bars and hotel chains in Glasgow with Panther M*lk, which comes in flavours including vanilla and strawberry.

The entrepreneur recently received a £17,500 loan through the British Business Bank’s Start Up Loans programme and Transmit Startups to support the company’s growth. He expects to launch a “series A” fundraising early next year to help fulfil order volumes.

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Mr Crawford said: “This year our focus has been on getting the brand out there and, while we’ve got a strong following in Glasgow already, it would be great to see Panther M*lk enjoyed all over the UK. Appearing on Dragons’ Den was brilliant for exposure and even though the deal with Deborah Meaden didn’t go through in the end, her advice and guidance since the show has been invaluable and we still keep in touch.

“Panther M*lk was the world’s first ready-to-drink oat drink cocktail and we have worked hard to build a sustainable brand with support from consultants at Dark Art Drinks. Our packaging is fully recyclable...and we’re committed to retaining our environmentally friendly approach as production ramps up. Glasgow will always be the brand’s home, but we hope that conversations with UK-wide supermarkets could lead to a much wider geographical spread.”