The SME Story: Erika Doyle, founder of Drink Dry
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The SME Story: Erika Doyle, founder of Drink Dry

The SME Story: Erika Doyle, founder of Drink Dry

A premium non-alcoholic drinks marketplace based in the UAE with large number of export clients in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives

Erika Doyle Founder, Drink Dry

How did the idea for Drink Dry come about?
I moved to Dubai in 2019 from the UK. The zero-alcohol drinks category was already present there, so I knew that the choice exists. But it simply was not available in the Middle East. I am a non-drinker, so it was a personal conquest of mine to introduce and build the premium alcohol-free drinks category for adults in this region. We were the first movers in this space and so the concept was brand new and it made most sense to do it by reaching the end consumer directly and setting up an online store was the most obvious way forward.

What is current scale of your business?
We are currently a team of four people who also work with a number of freelancers. We import our products from the UK, Spain, France, Germany and Belgium. Our warehouse and fulfilment operations, as well as last mile delivery service, is outsourced to third-party companies. Our biggest market is the UAE where we have direct-to-consumer reach via our e-store as well as a presence in retail and the hospitality sector. We tend to do our own distribution and work directly with our B2B clients. However, if we cannot achieve the required results, we partner with a bigger FMCG distributor to ensure we reach our KPIs. We also have a large number of export clients for Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the Maldives.

What is the potential market size for the non-alcoholic beverage market in the region?
It is hard to give specific numbers but the recent stats announced by Lyre’s suggest that there is a potential of 100,000 cases a year of alcohol-free spirits alone totaling $20m. I think there is a lot of education to be done to achieve these numbers, but the signs to reach there definitely look promising. The fastest growing sub-categories for us are definitely non-alcoholic beers and spirits. We launched our non-alcoholic spirit brand Sea Arch in December in the UAE.

What are some of the most pressing challenges that you’ve come up against when growing Drink Dry?
The first is breaking down the taboos and people’s perceptions about the quality and taste of the products we have under Drink Dry’s umbrella. Historically, non-alcoholic beers and wines were not great and so people are sceptical. However, a lot has changed in the last five years in terms of technology and the taste profile of non-alcoholic drinks. The easiest way for us to overcome this challenge is by getting people to try our products. Hence we partner with a lot of other businesses – from barber shops to high-end luxury clothing brands – where we showcase the drinks to the end consumer. The second challenge we have is the compliance process for importing the products. We work with local authorities to make sure we address any issues beforehand to ensure the smooth launch of new products in the market.

What are your expansion plans?
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia are our number one priority markets and we hope to be up and running with our online store in Kuwait in Q1 of 2022, with Saudi to follow later on in 2022.

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