• The Business Owner

Company Overview - Mill House Distillery

Name: John Cook

Position: Founder and Head Distiller

Industry: Spirits manufacturing and retail


What does your company do?

We are a Premium Gin Distillery sited in Cottingham East Yorkshire working from what could arguably be described as one of the oldest commercial sites in the UK today – registered in the Domesday Book as South Mill, the location has taken many forms over the years – More recently (well from 1752) in the manufacture of snuff from tobacco which is where the building known today as Snuff Mill House takes its name. Today we are proud to continue the manufacturing heritage of this little corner in crafting premium gins and liqueurs.


What changes or challenges do you foresee for your company in the next three years?

The challenge we face is getting our gins and liqueurs into the hands of consumers and key retail decision makers in what is an increasingly saturated market. Buyers even turn the phrase Gin Drunk as they are faced with a plethora of craft products. Sadly, the pandemic will “thin out” some of the noise in the craft gin landscape as distillers begin to fall by the wayside – they already are. That said, with less pubs, bars and restaurants available to sell gin by the glass the battleground is now firmly in off trade and retail by the bottle.


Are you optimistic, realistic or pessimistic about 2021?

I would have to say realistic – not to sit on the fence mind. The licensed industry is in a tremendous state of flux and it’s those suppliers who are best equipped to adapt and respond to a changing market that will thrive – I would go as far as to say this won’t be the current big players who will survive for sure but have too much traditional momentum to be agile in response. I anticipate lots more acquisitions of the craft and artisan manufacturers as we can already see continuing more recently with the likes of Chase etc etc)


What is the most important task you carry out each day?

Digital is king – in the absence of face to face this is truer now than ever before and I spend more time each day ensuring we are as present as we can be in the areas our customers and potential customers are looking. I look forward to expediting more effectively in B2B through the use of an innovative service we are currently assessing.


What is your company’s most important KPI?

Sales. Converting prospects into firm leads and firm leads into revenue is our largest indirect expense. If we don’t execute and realise the revenue stream from our focused efforts we would burn up where many have before us.


What positive effects has your company experienced during lockdowns?

Creating our Kingtree events in a virtual space has yielded and nurtured some amazing relationships both B2C and B2B. Without the pandemic and lockdowns, I would argue this wouldn’t have been on our radar for another year or even more! Will Zoom Gin Tastings ever be as good as face to face? Not really, but they certainly fulfil a need, put liquid on lips and our brand in geographies and environments we likely wouldn’t have prospected in…ever !


What causes you the most stress in your business?

Demand volatility. Forecasting some elements is fairly straight forward – mothers day, valentines, Christmas etc. There are some wild and unforeseen swings driven by the “new normal” we are moving in and further towards. Hosting a corporate Gin tasting event for 127 people in the middle of August with 8 days notice was a particular unforeseen – a great time was had by all thankfully.


If you could instantly change one area or thing about your business, what would it be?

To have 10 times the marketing budget today.


How would you rank the following in order of importance (1 most, 5 least)


· Sales pipeline (1st)

· Strong financial data (2nd)

· Environmental (3rd)

· Social Media (4th)

· Team communications (5th)


What do you do to unwind?

Create another Premium Gin whilst enjoying one or two of our existing ones ;)


Thank you so much to John for sharing his views and opinions. If you would like to contact him or his distillery please click on the link. https://www.millhousedistillery.com/