April 18, 2021

Salford Rum duo become the Rum Kings of lockdown with 1,500% sales uplift

Greater Manchester spirits firm, Salford Rum, took the region’s rum crown in 2020 after seeing a 1,500% uplift in sales due to the Covid-19 lockdowns.  

When the pandemic hit the UK in March 2020, the firm’s founders – James Harrison and Tommy Gaughan – pivoted quickly to focus more of their business online, so that they could ship bottles directly to customers from their warehouse in Salford. Staggeringly, the firm noted an incredible 1,500% uplift in online orders in the months after the pandemic hit in March, and overall shipped over 10,000 bottles via its website alone in 2020, compared to just 1,049 in 2019 – a 1,000% sales increase for 2020 as a whole.  

In fact, the weekend of Black Friday and Cyber Monday saw the firm ship 1,200 bottles – more than the previous year in the space of just a few days.  

Salford Rum’s initial post-lockdown success was mirrored by UK wide figures from the WSTA (Wine & Spirit Trade Association), which found that, in the three-month period from April and June 2020, 38% more rum was sold than in the same period last year, equivalent to an extra 1.3m bottles. The biggest volume growth was demonstrated by spiced and flavoured rums, which soared by 53% – outselling white rum for the first time.  

Salford Rum has created two expressions since its launch in 2018; a golden Salford Spiced Rum and the recently-added Salford Dark Spice. The company has added various gifting options to its range throughout 2020, including gift packs that feature cut glass tumblers and ceramic mugs. The bottles are well-loved both regionally and nationally, and all feature intricately-drawn maps of Salford by local artist, Dave Draws. 

Salford Rum was created when James and Tommy – rugby-league-playing high school friends – took inspiration from the growing gin category, which was flying due to buckets of innovation and creativity, and set out to make a local premium rum that would rival the luxury gin products on the market. 

After learning about premium rum making on top of their day jobs, and with a small self-funded start up investment of £8,000, Tommy and James created their first premium golden spiced spirit – Salford Spiced Rum – as a passionate celebration of the history, heritage and people of the Salford Docks in Greater Manchester throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s.   

An era whereby the city’s Salford Docks grew to be the third largest port in the UK, Salford Spiced Rum takes its flavour inspiration from the rums, fruits and spices from the Caribbean which were landing on British shores for the first time in that bygone time.  

James Harrison said: “Spiced rum has undergone somewhat of a renaissance over the last year or so, with discerning drinkers turning away from lower quality, sweet liquids in favour of premium, quality products of distinction. Salford Rum was, and still is, perfectly poised to take advantage of changing consumer palates.   

“According to the WSTA, the spiced rum category enjoyed a 9% uplift in volume sales in 2019, and we are more than happy to be contributing to that growth as the category evolves.” 

Co-founder, Tommy Gaughan, added “2020 was a year of mixed fortunes for the UK drinks industry. We’re not blind to the crippling impact last year has had on the trade; although the off trade has benefited from more people being at home, the On Trade has undoubtedly bore the brunt of the Covid-19 lockdowns. It meant a real shift for us; a sink or swim time whereby we had to change tact or risk seeing the business depleted. 

“When the lockdown kicked in, we pivoted quickly to concentrate on online with a dedicated focus on selling through our social media platforms – something we’d previously only dipped our toe into. The results were incredible, and when we took the time to reflect, we realised that we’d achieved something quite brilliant – especially when you consider the backdrop of 2020. 

“More and more people are buying premium spirits to enjoy at home. Our hope is that this will benefit the On Trade too in the longer term as people seek our brands like Salford Rum as a result. 

“This year has been challenging, to say the least, but what’s encouraging is the relationships we’ve built along the way, not least with consumers who have the brand online along with amazing photography and serves. The creativity we’ve seen is brilliant; there’s been no shortage of it in lockdown, people have really got behind us and the brand in a way that’s been quite defining.” 

In 2020, Salford Rum also partnered with new Greater Manchester-based premium drinks firm, Ten Locks, which has added both expressions to its curated portfolio of conscious, progressive  brands. Headed up by Becky Davies, a stalwart of the local Manchester drinks scene, the firm plans to increase the brand’s listings in the UK on and off trade.  

Mr Gaughan continues: “The sense of community and camaraderie at this time has been really quite humbling. New firms like Ten Locks backing us and bringing us into their portfolio of brands have really helped us focus on the ‘what next’ as we resume our focus on offline next year. This is an exciting step in the Salford Rum journey that allows us to continue with our dedication to work locally in the development of our business while reaching a wider audience through the Ten Locks portfolio.  

“It’s no secret that our local roots are hugely important, and sit at the heart of heart of what we do. We see community and local collaborations as being a fundamental part of how we grow in the coming years, and hope to continue to work with like-mined businesses and charitable ventures to produce small batches of unique rums. It’s hard to express the type of year we’ve endured as a nation, but for Salford Rum, 2021 is looking bright!” 

Both Salford Spiced Rum and the Salford Dark Spiced Rum are available to buy online at www.salfordrum.com and from Harvey Nichols both online and in store, and in several independent Greater Manchester stockists.   

For trade queries and orders, customers can contact [email protected]