Founded in the early 1900’s by brothers Thomas and David Robb, then expanded by Thomas’s four sons, Bon Accord has always been a family business with strong Scottish roots. With factories in Aberdeen and Arbroath, depots in Inverness and the Central Belt, and a fleet of iconic lorries, the original Bon Accord delivered their distinctive soft drinks and cordials in glass bottles to communities all over Scotland for generations. Now revitalised after having been closed down for a period in the early noughties, Bon Accord is still run by the same family, albeit with a new generation at the helm.
The Bon Accord of today delivers big hitting, naturally sweetened soft drinks. With five refreshing soft drinks in their range, plus a selection of tonics, their delightfully modern beverages are sweetened 100% naturally using honey, coconut nectar and lots of delicious fruit juice (and absolutely no refined sugar!) We heard from co-founder and Robb-brothers-descendant Karen Knowles for this week's Six with Greencity, to find out a bit more about the inspiration behind reviving this iconic Scottish brand, and the changes they're bringing to the modern soft drinks industry.
1.How/why and when did you start your business?
Bon Accord Soft Drinks was originally set up by my great-great-grandfather in 1903; it ran for 100 years before the family retired the business in 2000. The inpiration behind the relaunch of the company came when I was pregnant with my first baby in 2013. I was fed up of going out as a non-drinker and having a terrible choice of soft drinks, which were all loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners. My background is in the food and drink industry and I loved working in the Scottish food industry, but at the back of my mind always knew that I wanted to run my own business, and with my growing interest in healthier carbonated soft drinks, I decided to start the process of developing new soft drink recipes and rebranding Bon Accord. I met my business partner Nathan when we were working in the seafood industry, and we have skills which complement each other to running a business. We've also recently taken on a couple of members of staff so it's an exciting time seeing our team grow.
2. What advice would you give to someone starting a new business in the sector?
Be prepared to work your socks off! Having your own business is not like having a 9-5 job but, in my opinion, the reward's far greater. At Bon Accord we always try to have perspective and balance; the highs are high and the lows can be very low but understand that these are part of the business journey and have the confidence to keep pushing forward to work towards achieving your goals.
3. What motivates you?
I really believe our range of naturally sweetened soft drinks are better than any other out on the market so the desire to see them in more and more cafes, bars, restaurants and shops and giving our customers the choice to drink better drinks motivates me. Our mission is to make the born-again Bon Accord - a healthier, naturally sweetened, more flavoursome soft drink and tonic brand crafted for the tastes of today’s world, we want to share our love of flavours and passion for natural ingredients with the world and put a smile on the face of our drinkers.
4. How do you think the food & drinks industry could improve?
Scotland is an amazing place to live and we produce some of the finest food and drink products in the world from whisky to salmon. I would love to see more contemporary and modern products represent Scotland in food and drink sector, it’s not all about boxes of shortbread covered in tartan!
5. Is there an individual or organisation, current or in the past, who inspires you?
Our brand inspiration comes from Bon Accord’s technicolour back catalogue, this has played a big part of our relaunch and creating our happy, positive brand.On a more personal level, I was inspired by a manager I had in my early 20’s, who has now turned into a mentor for me. He taught me to stand up for myself, have confidence in my abilities and be brave enough to take on new challenges.
6. Apart from Greencity, which other three or more people, living or deceased, would you invite to make a dinner party entertaining?
David Attenborough for intellectual chat about life on planet Earth, Mary Berry for a good old pudding and Beyonce, because she’s a queen.