Irish drinks start-up strikes deal to supply Wizz Air
The Naked Collective to supply its Mude health drinks to the low-cost carrier this year
Niall Phelan and Catherina Butler of The Naked Collective. Photograph: Tony Gavin
Irish non-alcoholic drinks start-up The Naked Collective has struck a deal to supply airline Wizz Air while it plans raising €15 million to fund further growth this year.
The Naked Collective began supplying 1,000 Irish supermarkets with its Mude and So-beer non-alcoholic drinks in September last year after setting up in business 10 months previously.
Catherina Butler, co-founder and chief financial officer, confirmed on Tuesday it had agreed to begin supplying low-cost carrier Wizz Air with its Mude health drink for in-flight sales this year.
Wizz, with headquarters in Hungary, hopes to fly 33 million passengers this year. Analysts have widely tipped it as one of the airlines best-placed to recover from the Covid-19 crisis.
Ms Butler said the Irish company hoped sales to the airline’s passengers would reach a “healthy six-figure” number of individual cans every year. The drinks sell for €2.50-€3 each in the Republic.
“We were out looking for business and they came to us. They were looking for a healthy alternative to add to their list,” she said.
Selling on the airline’s flights could open doors in new markets. Wizz flies mainly in central and Eastern Europe. The Irish company already sells its products here, in Italy, Canada, the US and online. It is in talks with retailers in Britain.
Ms Butler and business partner Niall Phelan founded The Naked Collective with their own cash and €6 million raised from three investors, an Irish backer with links to retailing, and Canadian and US individuals.
The company is now raising €5 million from investors to fund production in the US and Canada. It will seek another €10 million later this year to fund further expansion in the US, beyond its initial markets in California, New York and New Jersey.
The Naked Collective contracts out manufacturing, with facilities in Birmingham in England, Mississippi and Toronto.
Originally the company also had a producer in Ireland, but difficulties with equipment needed to package its drinks in the 33cl cans the company prefers stalled this. Ms Butler expects manufacturing will resume here shortly.
The company is registered and has its headquarters in the Republic.