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AMA: Lewis Bowen, Group Strategic Director of Babco UK

AMA: Lewis Bowen, Group Strategic Director of Babco UK

Award-winning entrepreneur Lewis Bowen tells us all about Babco UK, one of the fastest-growing drinks businesses outside of London.

In 2019 via MBO, Lewis joined his father, Chris Bowen, the founder of Babco UK, to oversee digital transformation and strategic partnerships and drive forward the next chapter of the business.

In the face of twin challenges from Brexit and Covid-19, Lewis identified ways to grow the firm’s turnover from £490k in 2019 to £5.5m in 2021.

All while increasing the firm’s brand portfolio, widening brand sales channels, and spearheading the acquisition of 50% equity share in multi-award-winning Neptune Rum. 

Hi Lewis! Tell us a bit about Babco.

Founded in 2000 and proudly headquartered in Sheffield, Babco UK is a multi-channel drinks development and drinks distribution business with a portfolio of both owned and managed brands.  

It has curated and cultivated numerous brands from inception to nationwide and worldwide listings.

Babco UK was at the forefront of major UK brand launches within BWS from Cockspur Rum to Savanna Cider, as well as for Oranjeboom and Tofka Vodka. 

Backed by more than 20 years’ experience, Babco UK is adept at managing and launching drinks brands and products, taking brands with zero presence from the unknown to nationwide and worldwide listings. 

What does company culture mean to you?

It's everything. People spend a huge majority of their lives at work and if the culture is wrong, not only are people demotivated but your business will not work.

Couldn't have put it better! How do you keep your team aligned?

With a good vision and with a collective understanding that we are all in it together.

Every business has a lot of challenges so when you have the mindset that you are willing to get involved in anything to support your team, alignment becomes very natural. 

Are you and your team still working remotely?

We have a flexible approach. Our team is dotted around the country but more and more people are expressing a desire to spend more time with people (we are a social bunch).

Therefore, we are collectively building both office and virtual spaces to make sure everyone is comfortable and has options.  

So everybody's happy. Do you have a share or share option scheme in place?

We are currently building one to reward everyone for their tenacity and hard work. The announcement alone brought everyone together and reaffirmed our ‘all in it together’ mentality.  

Fantastic! What would you say is the biggest mistake you've made as an entrepreneur?

When you start a business, you tend to get excited and give shares away for services. I did this when I started my business from University and it ended up costing a lot in the long term.

It did however teach me a lot and being young it is easy to fail at it, learn from it, and grow stronger. 

Did you ever experience a business disappointment that led to something better? 

This is almost the definition of being an entrepreneur, you try things, they may not work but you know it always leads to another idea that is better than the last. 

Last question. If you could only eat one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? 

Fajitas, apart from being one of the only dishes in my small culinary repertoire, I just can’t get enough of them! Also provides a great excuse to savour with some Neptune Rum Daiquiris!

That sounds like the perfect meal. Thanks for your time Lewis. It's been a pleasure.

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