River Capital backs local drinks company with a £440,000 loan

Press Release:

A diabetic’s mission to remove artificial sweeteners from soft drinks is being backed with a £440,000 loan from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority’s Flexible Growth Fund managed by River Capital.

The investment will enable the Aintree-based Happy Drinks Company to create 24 jobs as it expands its bottling and manufacturing capabilities to meet rapidly growing demand. Founded in 2017, the Happy Drinks Company is on a mission to remove artificial sweeteners from soft drinks using a natural, stevia-based formula. Founder and CEO Ian Minton is a type 1 diabetic and started the company after having difficulty finding drinks that are both healthy and delicious, as the vast majority of sugar-free soft drinks use artificial sweeteners.

After humble beginnings, Happy Drinks Company has seen rapid growth in just a few years and the company now counts major retailers Lidl, M&S, Waitrose, Costco and Ocado amongst their customer base, stocking their innovative beverages.

The Flexible Growth Fund was established by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority with £20m in 2020, offering flexible, low-interest loans that businesses can access quickly and easily, to enable projects to be completed.

Managed by River Capital, it is available to small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) undertaking expansion projects and with the ability to raise 50% in match funding from the private sector.

River Capital Investment Manager Jeff Cummins said:

“We are delighted to be supporting Happy Drinks Company through the Combined Authority’s Flexible Growth Fund. Since its founding in 2017, the company has shown impressive growth and innovation in developing great-tasting soft drinks without artificial sweeteners. Their beverages are clearly resonating with consumers, as evidenced by their rapid expansion into major UK retailers. Our investment will allow Happy Drinks to meet the increasing demand for their products by enhancing production capabilities.

“When the Flexible Growth Fund was established in 2020 by the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, the aim was to support local businesses making positive impacts and through the new job creation to removing unhealthy ingredients from popular drinks, Happy Drinks is doing just that. We’re confident this funding will support the next stage of growth for Happy Drinks, and we look forward to following their ongoing success.”

Ian Minton, Founder and CEO of the Happy Drinks Company, said:

“As a type 1 diabetic I realised how difficult it was to find drinks that were both healthy and delicious.  It was that experience, coupled with my belief in the power of natural ingredients, that led me to found the Happy Drinks Company and embark on a mission to eradicate artificial sweeteners from soft drinks and provide healthier alternatives for everyone.

“This funding is hugely important and will enable the business to continue to grow and disrupt the drinks industry while creating a further 24 jobs here in the Liverpool City Region.”

Councillor Mike Wharton, Liverpool City Region Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Business, said:

“The Happy Drinks Company is a real success story and a great example of our city region’s world-class advanced manufacturing sector.  The business is already thriving and this investment will enable it to go on to even better things, creating another 24 jobs for local people in the process.  What’s more, this loan will be returned to the Combined Authority with interest, so we can put it back to work supporting other city region businesses.”

In 2020, the Happy Drinks Company, developed a global partnership with the official Emoji brand and followed this by relocating to a larger facility in Aintree to accommodate expansion in 2021. They now manufacturer a range of 7 products for on-sale to the major retailers.

The Flexible Growth Fund investment will support the provision of a state-of-the-art bottling line to increase production capacity. This will fuel the company’s ambitions to boost sales, widen its product range and create further market penetration with better shelf placement as the brand grows.

The project will initially create a further 24 jobs in the Liverpool City Region and supports the Combined Authority’s  ambition of long-term social and economic improvements.

ENDS