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Ex-Sainsbury’s CEO invests in Ellie Goulding’s hard seltzer

Served, the hard seltzer brand co-owned by singer Ellie Goulding, has received ‘significant’ funding from former Sainsbury’s chief executive Justin King.

King is also a non-executive director at Marks & Spencer

King, who led the UK supermarket chain from 2004 to 2014, has also been named as a senior board advisor for the alcoholic sparkling water brand, which was founded by brothers Dean and Ryan Ginsberg in 2020.

He said: “Dean and Ryan have created a truly premium product which stands out in the crowded field of the hard seltzer category, which is set to explode in the coming year.”

He joins amid a flurry of activity within the business. Last month, Goulding acquired a stake in the company, and former Artesian bar manager Anna Sebastian was appointed as its head of brand – developments that signal the “next phase of exciting growth” for Served, according to Dean Ginsberg.

“We are delighted to welcome Justin to our advisory team,” Ginsberg said. “It’s important that we bring on the very best people to support the brand in each of our core channels – and you just won’t find anyone more talented and experienced than Justin when it comes to retail.”

The brand is currently stocked at over 1,000 retailers across the UK, and has experienced a revenue increase of more than 1,000% in the past three months via its direct-to-consumer channel.

Its trajectory mirrors the massive growth of the wider hard seltzer category: according to Nielsen data cited by the brand, hard seltzers are forecasted to hit £600m (US$830m) in sales in the UK by 2025, while IRI figures show that the category’s sales surpassed US$4 billion in 2020.

At 4% ABV, Served is made with fruit that would have otherwise gone to waste.

Goulding noted that sustainability will continue to be a major focus for the company as it grows: “We are  going to take on some of the biggest brands on the planet, but do it our way. We refuse to compromise on quality nor the health of the natural world.

“We use ‘wonky fruit’ as an intervention on food waste, the most innovative ecological packaging materials we can think of, and we will support habitats, people and animals on the frontline of the nature crisis.

“We will continue to be 100% transparent. Oh, and we’ll do all this while having fun and building an awesome brand with awesome people.”

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