Simon Gray, founder and CEO of Leeds-based energy drink brand Boost Drinks, talks iced coffee, the pandemic, and Leeds United.
As one might expect for the CEO of a major Leeds business, Simon Gray is a Loiner throughand-through: “I’m Leeds born and bred,” Simon explained. “I spent my childhood in Alwoodley. I went to Leeds Grammar School, though it’s now known as The Grammar School at Leeds. Back then the campus was in Hyde Park, though it’s actually at Alwoodley Gates now. My family also all live in Leeds, everyone lives pretty much within a square mile of each other. Apart from when I went to Newcastle for university and a little bit of time spent in France while I was studying, I’ve lived in Leeds my whole life.”
Simon first got into the energy drink business as a fan of the products: “I drank a lot of energy drinks when I was at university. Those kinds of drinks were just emerging as a lifestyle product, and they helped me through my time at university – both the studying and the partying hard. When I left university, I was working for a food wholesaler. I then opened up my own food wholesale business and I approached a manufacturer about producing Boost for me, which I trademarked. The energy drinks market had just started to grow, and we came in at the right time with a different pack format and a different price point to what was already in the marketplace, and that’s how the company was started.”
“We’re a challenger brand first and foremost,” Simon stated. “We came into a marketplace with a growing consumer demand, and I think we’re positioning ourselves very much as a product for the everyday person, which is different from a lot of our competitors, who brand themselves towards things like extreme sports or rock music. We also pride ourselves on our value for money. Our single basic energy drink costs just 59p, which is far cheaper than many of our competitors.”
Of course, like many businesses Boost Drinks found itself battling against the adverse effects of the pandemic: “Energy drinks, generally, are bought while people are on the move. With lockdown, and the subsequent drop in commuters, footfall was down, so that had a partial impact. At the same time, we’ve been doing a lot of work with the brand throughout the pandemic. We’ve launched into the iced coffee market and grown our international business.”
Boost Drinks has certainly not been idle. Just last month it announced its brand-new partnership with football club Leeds United. Simon, a lifelong Leeds fan, said of the partnership: “Leeds United are a huge Premier League club with a global fanbase, including some of the most passionate supporters in the industry. We share a similar value set with Leeds United, we are both brave and ambitious challenger brands and are enjoying strong achievements. It’s an honour to be able to associate ourselves with such a prestigious club steeped in history.”
Like any good businessman, Simon has his eyes on the future: “We’re developing at the moment. We’re looking to bring different flavours to the market, that’s a rapidly growing area. We’re also looking at different pack formats. And, of course, our business portfolio is always expanding. We recently acquired the rights to distribute and manufacture the soft drinks brand Rio. We’re also looking to focus on putting our products in bars and coffee shops. Our products are all over supermarkets and newsagents, but not so prominent in food service yet, so we’re looking to fix that.”
To look at Boost Drinks’ selection of products, visit Boostdrinks.com