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Former Matthew Clark director and Hammonds launch drinks agency

Published:  08 November, 2017

Chris Jones, former commercial director of Matthew Clark’s brands distribution business, has joined forces with wholesaler Hammonds of Knutsford to launch a UK drinks agency with the aim of uniting bars and brands that “dare to be different”.

Launched this week, Paragon Brands’ globally sourced premium portfolio ranges from brands with authenticity and heritage to home-grown artisanal brands, with the joint venture established to bring the “best or most innovative” premium drinks to the UK market via Hammonds’ nationwide distribution base.

It would tap the growing demand for premium and craft alcohol that offered something unique to British drinkers, said Jones, who’s experience in the UK drinks business spans more than 22 years.

“Paragon Brands is a result of the contacts and knowledge I have gained over many years in this sector - there are many exciting brands from around the world looking for partners in the UK who can nurture their brands, support their marketing and find them the right distribution channels,” he said.

“We can offer retailers and operators first options on some very special drinks with unique stories to tell.”

The spirits portfolio sees the introduction of the NAUD Distilleries range of premium spirits, including Hidden Loot Super Premium Spiced Rum, while it’s cider menu features Swedish brand Herrljunga.

UK-based artisanal cider and liqueur from the Cranes cranberry brand also forms part of Paragon Brands’ range, alongside two European beer brands; Moritz, the first beer to be brewed in Barcelona with a 160-year heritage and Castello, a premium Italian Beer.

“Drinkers are beginning to see through the so-called ‘imported’ beers from big volume license-brewed beers and want to see more unusual beers with authenticity and provenance - with Mortiz and Castello we have found a couple of gems that the UK market will love,” said Jones.

Jonathan Hammond of Hammonds said the venture would “further enhance” Hammonds’ 60-year history of supplying high-end spirits and wines to premium bars and retailers across the UK.

“When Chris and I began discussing the creation of Paragon Brands, it became clear that there are a number of synergies that would benefit both businesses including a passion to bring the best or most innovative premium drinks to the UK drinks market.

Jones’ career in the drinks industry includes senior roles at Anheuser-Busch, Bacardi Brown-Forman, in addition to a stint as commercial director of Catalyst Brands where he was instrumental in developing brands such as Bottega Prosecco, Voss Water and Aperol Spritz.