Yorkshire-based drinks SME celebrates biggest year in company history

Lewis Bowen

Babco UK, one of the fastest-growing drinks businesses outside of London celebrated hitting the £5.5m revenue mark after its most successful year to date.

With group strategic director, Lewis Bowen at the helm since 2019, the drinks development & drinks distribution business has grown revenue from just under £500k to £5.5m in just two years, also celebrating its first million-pound-month in August 2021.

An award-winning entrepreneur since leaving university to start-up his own sustainable fuel company, Lewis Bowen’s transformation of his father Chris Bowen’s business from SME to what has become a multi-million pound global player is typical of his progressive approach.

A former recipient of accolades including Young Business Person of the Year, BQ’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award, Virgin’s One to Watch prize and named in entrepreneur.com’s list of Top 50 Inspiring Entrepreneurs, Lewis has been instrumental in Babco’s success story.

In the face of twin challenges from Brexit and COVID-19 he identified ways for growing the firm’s turnover from £490k in 2019 to more than £5.5m in 2021 while increasing the firm’s brand portfolio, widening brand sales channels, and spearheading the acquisition of 50% equity share in multi-award-winning Neptune Rum.

As the company closes in on record results, he is a rising star that is starting to gather much attention. Entrepreneurial spirit has always been in Lewis’s blood even since he was first endorsed with the prized role as Sheffield Hallam University’s Entrepreneur in Residence.

Following his last university exam in 2011, he started up AIR Global – a clean fuel company dedicated to tackling fossil fuels in everyday products. He built up a team and factory before securing complete outdoor adventure market distribution of their brand- new range – all within 12 months.

AIR has since secured major partnerships with Diageo and Heineken rolling out the brand in hospitality venues across the UK.

In 2019, Lewis bought into Babco to join his father Chris Bowen, founder of the drinks development & distribution business to oversee digital transformation and strategic partnerships and drive the next chapter of the business in what is undoubtedly one of the corporate success stories of the year.

Group strategic director Lewis Bowen of Babco said: “We are absolutely over the moon to celebrate the biggest year in Babco’s company history and are delighted to put Sheffield on the map as a key player in the UK drinks industry.

“Last year we took a leap forward into digital commerce to better serve our clients, opening up new sales channels to help them to thrive in an uncertain climate.

“2020 has been hugely challenging for small businesses and ours is no exception. Our continued success is down to the expertise and commitment of our strong team, whom we are extremely proud of.

“We will continue to build on our successes with ambitious plans already afoot for 2022 as we work towards another record-breaking year.”

Babco UK has recently launched a retail-first for major pizza chain Franco Manca which has seen the roll-out of two new ciders across all UK branches. The firm has just released a portfolio of premium spirits and Christmas gin liqueurs ahead of Q4.

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