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Mirror Margarita gains Sainsbury’s listing

Pre-mixed cocktail brand Mirror Margarita has secured a UK-wide listing in Sainsbury’s following a £1 million (US$1.22m) Black founder brand incubation programme.

The Mirror Margarita is the signature serve of dedicated agave bar Hacha

Deano Moncrieffe and Emma Murphy, who are also owners of London agaveria Hacha, transformed the venue’s signature Mirror Margarita into its own RTD (ready-to-drink) bottled cocktail brand in 2021.

Mirror Margarita was one of nine businesses that took part in the Thrive with Sainsbury’s programme, which was created to allow the UK retailer to support Black founder-led food and drink brands.

In the programme, the brands received an initial grant of £20,000 (US$24,177), one-to-one practical training and group learning opportunities.

Speaking to The Spirits Business, Moncrieffe commented: “It was a really immersive and rounded programme covering pretty much everything from food and drink safety, investor pitch techniques, legal requirements, increasing visibility, tweaking existing brand designs to have more standout on shelf, and essential new skills.

“It was a really rounded way of getting to understand more about the off-trade because that’s not an area that either Emma or I have a lot of experience in, so it was so invaluable.

“You’ve got to think about supply chain, you’ve got to think about distribution, you’ve got to think about your cogs, new product development, your marketing strategy – it’s going to be completely different to what it would be in the on-trade. It’s been a really, really big eye opener from that point of view.”

Following the training, the brands then pitched for a permanent place on supermarket shelves. This included ‘Dragons’ Den-style’ pitches to Sainsbury’s category and buying teams, which gave brands the chance to showcase their new branding and products, and answer any questions.

“We’re incredibly proud to have taken part in the programme,” Moncrieffe said. “We feel that this is laying the foundations for a massive opportunity for us to continue to grow this year and beyond, and we’re really excited that more people in the UK are going to be able to taste and explore the wonderful world of Mirror Margarita.”

‘First in the UK’

The first three brands to be selected from the programme, including Mirror Margarita, will be available to purchase at Sainsbury’s later this year.

The mezcal iteration of the Mirror Margarita uses The Lost Explorer Espadín

“We feel incredibly proud that to our knowledge we will be the first bar in the UK to have their own signature serve brand on sale at a national supermarket,” said Moncrieffe.

“I think this is actually quite ground-breaking because if you go into a lot of supermarkets at the moment, you will see very popular restaurants or food outlets, like Itsu or Yo Sushi, that have their own brand on sale in a national supermarket, so from a restaurant point of view, it’s been done before, but it’s not been done from a drinks point of view.

“I think that this may be in some way inspiration to other bars to follow suit; but it’s just amazing that we’re the first to have done it.”

In partnership with Foundervine and Mission Ventures, the programme sought to combat the barriers Black and ethnic-minority start-up businesses face, including reduced industry knowledge, insufficient access to funding, and limited social capital and networks.

“For me personally, as a Black mixologist, I’m the first to be able to achieve [a supermarket listing like this],” Moncrieffe added. “So hopefully that will inspire and excite a new generation of bartenders from minority groups to know that they can achieve something pretty big.”

Silika Shellie-Manso, director of grocery innovation, Sainsbury’s, said: “We launched Thrive with Sainsbury’s to give Black founder-led start-up brands access to quality support and services to which they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, as innovation and inclusivity are at the heart of what we do.

“What these brands have achieved over the last 16 weeks is phenomenal and we hope all businesses involved can take away skills and knowledge to help them grow even further. For the three selected brands, we’re so excited to welcome them into the Sainsbury’s fold.”

‘Most popular luxury RTD’

Going forward, Moncrieffe confirmed the brand plans to increase its distribution in the nationwide on-trade to support its growth in the off-trade.

“Expect to see us in a lot of major cities across the UK,” he said. “And hopefully some very exciting partnerships to come this year in the on-trade will be a lot more feasible in cities outside of London.

“It is the mission for us to become the most popular luxury RTD in the country and definitely the most popular Margarita in the UK as well. That’s what our mission is, and that’s what we’re trying to do. So when we get there we can explore outside of Europe and then in other key markets across the world as well.”

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