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Thomson and Scott Ltd
Food & Drink
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Tell us your business story to date...
I'm Amanda Thomson, founder and CEO of Thomson & Scott. I gave up a career as a BBC reporter to run away to Paris and ultimately launch a portfolio of low and no-sugar sparkling wines, which I branded Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne and Skinny Prosecco. 10 years ago I was a reporter for the BBC. Covering arts at the Cannes Film Festival gave me a definite taste of the champagne lifestyle, and also the realisation that not all wines are created equal. The journalist in me was curious and wanted to find out more. My light bulb moment was when I discovered you could have great-tasting Champagne without the addition of those deadly white granules. I wondered why people always ask what’s in their food but never what’s in their wine. And when I tell people that most wine is not vegetarian, they can’t quite believe it. That’s why I'm proud that my Prosecco is both organic and vegan certified. Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne Grand Cru, was the tricky one to create and then get out there. Now the rest of the portfolio simply follows in its big sister’s glamorous wake! Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco has taken off in a way we could never have imagined – it’s been called the basic bitch drink by The Guardian, which first made me laugh and then made me think, “Wow, I think we’re now a ‘thing’” I want the bar call to ultimately be “Do you want Prosecco or Skinny Prosecco?”
What can we look forward to seeing from you?
We are expanding rapidly. We are launching on the East Coast U.S. from spring and look to take our brand to Australia this summer. We also have lots of interest from Canada, South Africa and Scandinavia. To bolster this we are also launching a second Champagne this year, and a couple of other exciting sparkling wines too!
How will your business change the world?
Everyone is now obsessed with what's in their food but no one is asking, "What's in my bottle?" So we are leading the way in getting people to think much more about the provenance of their wine. We're also shouting loudly about transparency - we want consumers to know how wine is made and importantly what goes in it! Labelling needs to be clearer and again, we've already put a lot more information on our bottles than any of our competitors. This has the potential to change the way in which people consume wine. It should be less about wine jargon and more about honesty and truthful practice.
Tell us about your products/services in more detail...
Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco, which contains up to 7g of sugar per litre, was the number one searched product on Selfridges’ website, including the food and drink, tech, beauty and fashion sections. It continues to be Selfridges’ biggest selling wine online.
Customers have also had the chance to upgrade from business to first class with Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne Grand Cru Brut and Rosé – which contains up to 0.1g of sugar per litre, developed with the help of celebrated French Champagne producer Alexandre Penet.
Thomson & Scott Skinny Champagne Grand Cru Brut and Rosé, and Thomson & Scott Skinny Prosecco are vegan with the Prosecco also made using 100% organic Glera grapes.
Is there anything you can offer to help other startup businesses?
I think it’s the amount of noise I’m able to make. The big money brands have become faceless, and their stories have been lost. We’re fulfilling a need that most customers are only too happy to find out exists. They know all these decisions about how my brand is growing are mine. Each new product that we are bringing to market are specifically chosen by me for people who think like I do. I don’t want to second-guess what other people might want. But I think there are enough consumers out there keen to change their lifestyles to a lower sugar one without compromising on taste and quality.
The funding bit is statistically tougher for women, but on a positive note, female entrepreneurs are easier to notice because there are fewer of us. I never like to think about my gender as a barrier, and I feel I’d be doing my daughter a disservice in taking that stance. Arguably, the more corporate suits there are somewhere, the more pointed your difference. If I’m completely honest, I find being underestimated can sometimes be a super useful weapon in business. The more people think you’re no competition, the more space you have to get on a take over the world without being interrupted!
As for advice for newbies, if you’re 100% sure it’s a brilliant idea, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. All that’s holding you back from success is often your own fears, so tackle that head on. It is crazy hard work, so only do it if you are prepared to live and breathe the business. Being obsessed is essential.
Is there any help that are you looking for?
I am currently recruiting for an in-house tech genius because so much of what we do as a business lives online. We're also always on the lookout for exciting, energetic people to bring something unique and disruptive to the table -whether they are a seasoned professional or someone just starting out.