Reefton Distilling Co celebrates first birthday
They do things a little differently on the West Coast, which the AGM and 1st birthday celebrations of the Reefton Distilling Co recently highlighted. Most annual general meetings are rather serious affairs, with a gathering of interested shareholders and the board of directors. These are usually conducted in a fancy hotel with a few refreshments and the […]
They do things a little differently on the West Coast, which the AGM and 1st birthday celebrations of the Reefton Distilling Co recently highlighted.
Most annual general meetings are rather serious affairs, with a gathering of interested shareholders and the board of directors. These are usually conducted in a fancy hotel with a few refreshments and the opportunity to present the company’s Annual Report. But not so on the West Coast, especially when a large number of shareholders are local folk with a vested interest in the company.
Reefton Distilling Co.’s AGM began with a formal meeting in the historic Reefton cinema on Friday 13th September. Shareholders were met with cocktails featuring Reefton Distilling Co.’s award-winning products and canapes from Giulio Sturla. Sturla, named chef of the year in the 2018 Cuisine Good Food Awards, has a philosophy of celebrating nature and local ingredients, using the best New Zealand can offer. Having spent part of the day foraging in the West Coast rainforest with Reefton Distilling Co. ambassadors, local botanical and water prospectors, Nigel and Steffan MacKay, the food did not disappoint.
The cinema screen showed a pictorial display of this gutsy little distillery’s history over the last year, with images showing the restoration of the historic Harald Bros’ store (built in the 1870s) and its transformation into their working distillery and tasting bar. The meeting opened with an informal proposal, not listed on the agenda, to rename the meeting the ‘Annual Gin Meeting’ and this was met with a unanimous show of hands.
The meetings formal proceedings ensued, chaired by Ngaio Merrick, who gave an account of the challenges faced and overcome, the tireless work that the distillery team had put in to raise awareness of the business and products, the achievement of six medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the inaugural New Zealand Spirits Awards earlier in the year, plus the resoundingly positive feedback at the cellar door. Accountant Aaron Cassidy, then ran through the company’s financial performance, from first sales in mid-October 2018 through to the end of their first Financial Year 31 March 2019, pointing out that the company achieved break-even in March 2019.
Reefton Distilling Co. founder and MD Patsy Bass then addressed the audience, thanking the staff and shareholders for all of their support and for believing in the distillery.
“This weekend marks one heck of a milestone, from an idea in 2016 to be part of the revitalisation of Reefton, two years on we have achieved global awards for our products, created jobs and a tourist attraction with flow on effects for the wider community,” said Bass.
“It seems the whole of New Zealand has got behind us,” she continued. “Our distributor has seen an unprecedented increase in sales. Where January, June and July are well known as being incredibly quiet months for liquor sales, Reefton Distilling Co. sales continued to grow by double digits and our distributor has commented that we have achieved a cult like following and are New Zealand’s fastest growing gin brand.”
Bass then went on to share the vision for the company over the next 12 months and beyond. She advised shareholders that the focus for distribution was now moving to an on-premise push throughout New Zealand. Bass also shared that the distillery have new products in the pipeline which they will release in the next year.
When asked about plans for export, Bass explained that Reefton Distilling Co. have been developing their export strategy with the help of NZTE and have been receiving interest from various international markets for some time.
“We have already begun an online pilot into the Australian market, and this has gone well. However, we have not yet set a date for exporting, as our current focus is on expanding into both on-premise and retail customers within New Zealand.”
Bass then went on to outline plans which will include both business expansion and the production of their much-awaited Moonlight Creek Whisky.
As most AGM’s proceedings end, once the votes are cast and motions passed, shareholders then slip away for another year. This was not the case for Reefton Distilling Co., with shareholders travelling from near and far, the company made the decision to combine their AGM with their first birthday celebration – and what ensued was a weekend filled with activities highlighting all that this historic West Coast town has to offer.