Louth distillery owner raffles 5% stake in her €1.7m gin business

Listoke Distillery raises cash for shares using UK-based online raffle service

 Bronagh Conlon, MD (right) and her daughter Sarah, director of sales at Listoke Distillery and Gin School in Co Louth. Photograph: Alan Betson

Bronagh Conlon, MD (right) and her daughter Sarah, director of sales at Listoke Distillery and Gin School in Co Louth. Photograph: Alan Betson

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The owner of a Louth gin distillery that was recently valued at €1.7 million is raffling a 5 per cent stake in the business to raise cash for marketing and to help fund additional production equipment.

Bronagh Conlon of Listoke Distillery, located near Dunleer in the Boyne Valley region, is selling tickets through UK-based online service, Raffall. com, for £20 (€23.30) each.

First prize is the 5 per cent stake, potentially worth €85,000 based upon a business valuation last November when Ms Conlon bought out her partners. Second and third prize in the draw, which is on July 9th, are £10,000 and £5,000 in cash.

The distillery’s main brand is Listoke 1777 gin, an award winner sold through retailers such as SuperValu, Dunnes Stores and O’Brien’s off-licences, as well as online. It also produces private-label gin for businesses including hotels. In addition, Listoke has recently teamed up with a Louth whiskey maker, Great Northern Distillery, to create a new band, Wise Owl.

The business also operates a “gin school”, which attracts visitors for half-day gin tasting and making sessions, along with a tour of the facilities. The visitor side of the business was worth up to 45 per cent of its revenues prior to the pandemic, and is due to resume next month as Covid restrictions are lifted.

Listoke has also been making hand sanitiser since the start of the pandemic.

Ms Conlon said the business is currently exporting gin to Russia and is close to concluding a deal with a distributor in China for its gin and whiskey brands. Some of the cash raised from the raffle will be used to promote the brand in China, while it will also go towards a new €150,000 bottling line.

“It’s our way of thinking outside of the box and it hopefully will also raise the profile of Listoke,” said Ms Conlon, who works in the business with her husband and their two daughters.

She said the original aim was to sell 10,000 tickets, which would have netted the business more than €200,000. “But now I’d take 5,000, although I’d still be hoping for more than that. We said we wanted to at least cover our costs, and that would do it for us. But there’s a feelgood element with a public raffle too. It goes beyond the ticket sales.”

The winner will also receive a lifetime’s supply of gin “within reason”, said Ms Conlon.

Ms Conlon bought out the business late last year, following a dispute with her original business partners that reached the High Court before reportedly being settled in July.

A trained nurse, she previously founded a sauces and preserves business, The Real Irish Food Company, which was sold to Jacob Fruitfield, now part of Valeo Foods in 2005.

After coming through treatment for breast cancer, Ms Conlon later left the business she sold and became a consultant to food SMEs for a number of years, before becoming the launch director of Listoke in 2016. The Boyne Valley region has become a hotbed for small food and drink producers. Ms Conlon also chairs Discover Boyne Valley Flavours, a network of local food and drink businesses.