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RMB consortium invests in alcohol-free SA drinks firm, The Duchess

Rand Merchant Bank says it has partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev’s corporate venture capital arm ZX Ventures to take an equity stake in alcohol-free South African drinks company, The Duchess. File photo.

Rand Merchant Bank says it has partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev’s corporate venture capital arm ZX Ventures to take an equity stake in alcohol-free South African drinks company, The Duchess. File photo.

Published Dec 10, 2021

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Rand Merchant Bank (RMB) said this week it had partnered with Anheuser-Busch InBev’s corporate venture capital arm ZX Ventures to take an equity stake in alcohol-free South African drinks company, The Duchess, the creator of the world’s first alcohol free gin & tonic that’s proving globally popular.

The Duchess launched in 2016 and has since achieved multinational success by selling over 8 million bottles and winning the Best Adult Drink & Best New Drink Concept at the Global Innobev Awards. In 2020, it expanded its range to launch alcohol free wine spritzers to target the under-served alcohol-free wine market.

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Catherine Townshend, of RMB’s Growth Capital Solutions, said: “This investment represents a great opportunity to build on The Duchess success story with global momentum in the “better for you” beverage innovation category.

The Duchess is available in seven countries including South Africa, The Netherlands, Belgium, Australia and the UK. Over 50 percent of its sales already come from export markets.

The Duchess founder Johannes le Roux said that there was a fast-growing, global demand for non-alcoholic drinks.

“The Duchess is proving to be an international favourite with health and wellness-minded people who simply weren’t satisfied with sparkling water or sugary soft drinks as alternatives to alcohol.

Le Roux said the “No and Low alcohol” was a category, which he believed had huge potential. “It’s projected to grow by a 7.6% compound annual growth rate per year to a $43 billion (R694m) global market by 2025.”

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