Viewpoint: Henry Chevallier-Guild

14 January 2020, 08:17 AM
  • Heritage family business acumen meets start-up excitement in Henry's CV
Viewpoint: Henry Chevallier-Guild

Large businesses work in certain ways; Aspall is very fleet of foot compared to a lot of big companies, but it still has a heirachy and things need to be done in a certain way. You can revitalise that and infuse the right kind of energy, but you’re working within a bigger team. Something I’m enjoying about doing Nonsuch is taking a look at the details that I never got involved with at Aspall, because there was someone else doing that job. I’m relishing filling in the gaps from my previous existence. It was so satisfying taking a product like Aspall to market, seeing the look on people’s faces and knowing they love what you’re doing.

What gets me out of bed in the morning – with a spring in my step – is knowing there’s so much to do! Setting goals and objectives and adapting when you don’t hit them is satisfying, as is being totally flexible to be able to offer a bespoke service to lots of people. I’m spinning a lot of plates but it’s good fun!

Big business can learn a lot from startups. When a company becomes a certain size it has to have systems in place to make sure that it does the things it does well and doesn’t make mistakes. When you’re a small company, there’s less to go wrong as far as that’s concerned so you can move a lot quicker. There’s always the aspiration for big companies to be less bureaucratic, to be fleeter of foot and faster, but in reality the roles of HACCP and quality assurance and Trading Standards mean that a lot more people have to be involved in the conversation and it takes a lot longer for things to get to the start line. It’s inavoidable and doesn’t make big companies bad, but the ability to turn things around quickly is one of the things that I appreciate about being in a much smaller business.

Shrubs are the drink that won’t go away. They’ve been around for 5,000 years. The Babalonians made them, Romans made them, the Ottoman Turks made them, and American Colonials and Medieval sailors did too. There’s something about them that we keep going back to – bittersweet, sour, savoury – these are things that tantalise us. They’re moreish and we like them. Shrubs have all of this in buckets, so I feel confident that we’ve backed the right vehicle as they are so versatile, delicious and adaptable. They’ve got a great back story, too – they’re a very authentic thing, and one of the best kept secrets in the drinks industry (but not for long!).

The market’s good; there’s a lot of misinformation in it and lots of people are jumping into the market thinking that they need to tick this box. They’re formulating a landscape as they see it but I don’t think that’s necessarily the landscape that’s in front of them. I’ve been speaking with retailers who are unsure about what it is and where it sits and who’s drinking it, as it’s very fast moving and evolving all the time. It’s good fun being in markets like this.

For the full article download the January issue here.


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