£7 million deal provides turbo boost to Eden

Date: Friday 13th January 2012
Nigel Tarn
Nigel Tarn

man’s career

man’s career

AN Eden man is the toast of the drinks industry after his company was taken over in a deal reported to be worth around £7 million.

Just 18 months after it was founded by Nigel Tarn, who lives near Culgaith, Turbo Drinks Company has been bought for the seven-figure sum. Its new owner is a partnership headed by former Welsh rugby union internationals Gareth Thomas and Gareth Williams.

Mr. Tarn (right), who celebrated his 35th birthday yesterday, has previously been responsible for some of the UK’s most successful drinks brand launches. He will remain on the board of Turbo Drinks Company and become a shareholder in the new business.

This will be based in Mr. Thomas’s home town of Bridgend in Wales, where Turbo’s flagship brand, Turbo Shandy, will be produced along with other beverages.

Mr. Thomas, Mr. Williams and entrepreneur Sean Smith who is providing the bulk of the finance for the deal will also set up an academy to teach people about the drinks industry.

“We tried to site the £1 million brewery, jobs and academy in Penrith, but unlike the Welsh business enterprise scheme were unable to get support from the North West Business Trust or Cumbrian Asset Reinvestment Trust,” said Mr. Tarn. “I regret this as it would have been good for the local economy and provided employment and training.”

After attending Yanwath School, Mr. Tarn moved on to Penrith’s Ullswater High and then Queen Elizabeth Grammar schools. He gained a university degree in geology and then a masters in marketing. During his final year of study he was part of an eight-strong group of students given the task of launching energy drink Red Bull in the UK.

He moved to a Yorkshire Dales-based micro-brewery and worked in London for global brewing and bottling company SAB Miller. Then came a switch to an independent drinks manufacturer, Liverpool-based Halewood International.

He set up Turbo Drinks Company in late-2010, but only after he was able to raise around £360,000 with the help of private investors. One of its major successes has been the production of Turbo Shandy, a bottled version of a drinks combination that has been sold in pubs and clubs around the UK for many years. It is now available in many holiday destinations and hundreds of student union bars.

Mr. Tarn was delighted with the rapid sale of his company, which was announced on Wednesday. “The plan was to give investment back in three years but we have done that in 18 months. Investors have got 10 times their money back in half the time,” he said.

He stressed that he would not make any money personally from the deal, as all his shares would transfer into the new company. “To retain control of the company with Gareth Thomas as partner is a great opportunity for the business and brand to move forward,” he said.

Having bought Turbo Drinks Company, former dual code rugby star Mr. Thomas will have a chance to promote his new business when he emerges from the Celebrity Big Brother house, where he is a resident and a favourite to win the televised show on Channel 5.

Mr. Tarn will continue to live near Culgaith with his wife, Jude, and their two children, Alex, aged nine, and five year-old Eliza. His parents, former Penrith secondary school teacher Alan and Janet, live at Tirril, while his brother, Andrew, lives near Carlisle.

Last year, Mr. Tarn spent five days walking 86 miles and climbing the 30 highest peaks in the Lake District the equivalent of climbing Mount Everest from sea level. This was to highlight group B streptococcal meningitis, an infection which claimed the life of his daughter, Lia-Rose, six years ago.