Spencer Matthews’ CleanCo announces US expansion

No/Low spirits brand CleanCo, founded in 2019 by entrepreneur and creator Spencer Matthews, announces its entry to the U.S. market, in a move which could set the brand up to achieve sales of more than 50,000 9 litre cases across the U.K & U.S in 2021 and become one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing No/Low spirits brands.

Following his own desire to reframe his relationship with alcohol in 2018, Matthews discovered there were no options in the market that could match the taste and mouthfeel of full-strength spirits in a mixed drink. This is what led to the creation of CleanCo, which is designed for people who want to enjoy a full-flavour, non-alcoholic alternative to alcohol.

The No/Low spirits business has been swiftly gaining momentum and market share in the UK category since it’s launch in 2019 and is now the UK’s fastest-growing No/Low spirits brand.

Distributors of CleanCo include Ocado, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Dunnes Stores and SuperValue of Ireland, and various hospitality destinations serve CleanCo products, including legendary soho jazz club, Ronnie Scotts as well as Claridges and Dukes Bar, the cocktail institution tucked away in London’s affluent Mayfair.

Matthews’ upmarket alternative spirits business initially secured £2.1m before raising a further £7m from backers including Ursula Burns, former CEO of Xerox and board member of Uber, as well as Lightspeed Venture Partners.

Matthews and his team have partnered with U.S based Demeter & Co, led by Jim Clerkin, former CEO of Americas for Moët Hennessy and Jim Beam, and Jeff Menashe, Founder and CEO of Demeter Advisory Group, the leading investment bank to the adult beverage industry in the U.S.

Spurred on by consumers’ growing interest in health and wellness, CleanCo seeks to empower a new category of cocktail lovers in the U.S. who wish to moderate without compromise.

“The No/Low alcohol industry is embarking on a major revolution driven by a large and growing consumer audience,” enthuses CleanCo Founder, Spencer Matthews, who has previously spoken to Business Leader via our Business Leader Insight series.

“There’s this incredible surge of global cocktail lovers seeking to moderate their drinking habits to be healthy, happy and connected. In the U.S, our research found that one in five premium spirits drinkers sought a way to moderate while still enjoying the cocktails they love.”

“We are now one of the world’s largest and fastest-growing No/Low spirits brands, and with everything we’ve learnt, it is the right time for us to introduce CleanCo to the U.S, the world’s largest alcohol market, before expanding globally.

Matthews’ ambition for CleanCo to lead the charge in this rapidly growing billion-dollar No/Low category are rooted in the changing cultural landscape, which CleanCo has tapped into in the UK, hoping to do the same in the US with the Demeter & Co collaboration.

Significantly, Clerkin and Menashe have put their stake in the ground by launching the No/Low alcohol spirit company as Demeter & Co’s first brand in its portfolio.

“Spencer and his team have a proven concept in the U.K. and deep learnings that help inform how we will approach the U.S. consumer. As the only brand with an existing portfolio of traditional spirit alternatives, CleanCo is able to customize the launch of each market with the spirit most aligned with its cocktail culture,” commented Jim Clerkin, Co-Founder and CEO of Demeter & Co.

“So, in the U.K, CleanCo leads with Clean G [Gin], whereas in the U.S, we will lead with Clean T [Tequila], our take on an agave forward Tequila Blanco. In this way, we are complimenting the significant growth of Tequila in the U.S, while showcasing CleanCo in one of the country’s fastest-growing cocktails – the Paloma.”

“CleanCo is the first example of Demeter & Co’s approach to building global adult beverage brands, which involves pushing new boundaries and making a positive impact on culture,” added Jeff Menashe, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Demeter & Co.

CleanCo’s arrival in America is being elevated with key distribution deals, including the world’s largest distributor of adult beverage alcohol, Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, who launches CleanCo next month across seven states, which include California, Texas and Florida.

Wayne Chaplin, Chief Executive Officer, Southern Glazer’s said: “The consumer is telling us that the opportunity in No/Low alcohol is now. For Southern to be part of a team to help develop and lead this cultural movement in the US with a proven group of industry experts like Demeter & Co is incredibly exciting”.

To build immediate national relevance, CleanCo is entering the U.S. with a digital-first marketing focus, and a sales strategy that has an equal focus on wholesale and direct-to-consumer. These efforts are led by CleanCo’s Global Chief Brand Officer Lana Buchanan, former VP of Beyond Beer at Anheuser Busch, and Demeter & Co’s head of sales Rudy Costello, former global CEO, Stoli Group.

Nielsen reported a 37% dollar growth in non-alcoholic Beer, Wine and Spirits for 2020 compared to 2019, in a recent Beverage Alcohol Webinar.

In the U.S. alone, drinks analytics group IWSR projects No/Low spirits sales to grow to $1B by 2025. While sales projections for the global No/Low overall category are projected to reach $74B in 2025, equating to 6.2% of global beverage alcohol.