Rum brand raises $4m to expand

Last updated 11:45 13/09/2013

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High-flying spirit label Stolen, best known for its rum brands, is set to embark on international expansion after its owner gained $4 million in a private capital raising this week.

Co-founder and chief executive Jamie Duff said the response from investors in China, the United States, Australia and Britain was exceptional.

"We were advised that it's very tough right now to raise private money.

"However, positive response from the market and speed at which we have been able to secure funding reinforces the strong position we are in as a young, ambitious growth company," Duff said.

The company's business model was attractive to these investors because of its high scalability and good margins, he said.

Stolen, owned by Auckland-based company International Trading Cartel, was on track to be cash positive in other international target markets within three years, he said.

The company, which is only three years old, in May appointed Rob Campbell and Christina Domecq to its board.

Domecq is from the famous Spanish wine and spirits dynasty established by Pedro Domecq and now part of the UK-based drinks giant Allied Domecq.

Campbell, the board chairman, said this latest funding round increased the company's value to $18m and came about in a cost-effective way, costing only 1 per cent of the capital raised.

"Included in our pitch to potential investors were some exciting and well-developed plans for international growth off a strong base and a cash-positive position in the New Zealand market," Campbell said.

Both Campbell and Duff were tight-lipped over expansion strategies into target markets, but their award-winning rum labels Stolen Gold, Stolen White and Stolen Dark are aimed at the premium end of the market.

All have won gold medals at a San Francisco spirit competition since the company launched.

Alongside market growth plans, Stolen has been innovating and developing distinct flavours, although the co-founder will not reveal much other than telling worldwide consumers to "expect irreverent contemporary and unique new products".

Duff said it is this innovation, their disruptive marketing activities and contemporary brand that attract investors as well as customers.

"They like that we have created a unique proposition in a market with a little differentiation.

"Investors can see the rapid growth potential in the rum market when combined with product innovation, our scalable business model and international growth plans," he said.

This round of private capital raising would not be the last as Stolen looks into additional markets and private funding remains the best option given its low cost, Duff said.

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