Belfast Telegraph

Drinks firm is toasting a berry successful pitch

By Heather McGarrigle

A DRINKS company has won the chance to pitch for a £50,000 business prize.

Boozeberries, which makes berry liqueurs, last night won the Northern Ireland heat of UK business competition, The Pitch. Barbara Hughes from the Dromore company went up against four other finalists in the last regional heat of the contest - Anthony Kieran of online file management firm Media Lightbox, Conor James Moran of web application Mobile Report, Maria McGee from Marble Hill skincare and Jason Paul of water device maker Floe.

Barbara was last to present her company to the judges, UK entrepreneur Karen Darby, Will McKee, one of Ireland's most experienced board directors, and Carl Hopkins, a previous Channel 4 Secret Millionaire.

Boozeberries now joins Welsh drinks maker Frozen Rocktails, English baby product company SnoozeShade and Scottish pipe repair firm Kibosh at The Pitch 2011 final in London on November 18.

They will pitch again to a judging panel, including Coffee Republic founder Sahar Hashemi, after which the winner will walk away with a £50,000 prize package that includes mentoring, advertising campaigns, consultancy services and PR training.

Husband and wife team Stuart and Barbara Hughes started Boozeberries just over a year ago and the firm, which makes berry liqueurs, has already won a string of international awards for its produce.

Now the couple plan to step up production and target markets outside Northern Ireland with financial assistance of £45,000 from Invest NI.

The firm is expected to employ six people by the end of 2013. The company won gold and silver medals at the recent Wines and Spirits Wholesalers of America tasting competition in Orlando, Florida.