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Chamber Durham AGM hears gin-maker on Durham being UK's Harvard


The unusual route to business success of Durham businessman Jon Chadwick, was the keynote speech at the North East England Chamber of Commerce’s Durham area AGM.

Jon Chadwick, MD of Durham Distillery, manufacturer of Durham Gin amongst other products, worked for the NHS and the Government in a wide range of roles including having responsibility for the 2012 Olympics health infrastructure. When he knew he was going to be made redundant he explored different entrepreneurial options and decided to set up an alcoholic drinks company.

He said: “I was inspired initially by the craft beer market and distillery model in North America. The link between famous Universities like Harvard and Yale with craft beers struck a chord with me so I decided to launch Durham Gin, celebrating my home town and love of the city.

“I see Durham as the Harvard of the UK. There was also a unique opportunity to start disruptive innovation in the white spirits sector, which has since, absolutely exploded. I got lucky and was ahead of the wave of interest and have grown 100% year on year since we started four years ago.”

Durham Distillery is stocked nationally in Majestic stores, Morrisons and has also been supported by Fenwick’s wine department in its Food Hall. Jon Chadwick is going to open a new distillery later in 2018 with what he believes will be the first set of whisky stills in the North East.

At the meeting held at Beamish Hall Hotel, over 100 Chamber members re-elected Mike Wade as Chair and Dawn Fairlamb, New College, Durham as Vice-Chair.

Mike Wade summarised the main issues for businesses at present including Brexit and said it was important to concentrate on what companies have in common rather than what divides them, so everyone works closely together. “It is more important than ever our members get involved with the Chamber’s work so it can represent the region’s view accurately to the Government.”

The Durham AGM was sponsored by the North East LEP, Dinah Jackson, programme manager, outlined the North East Growth Hub and the potential support available to companies which have the potential to grow, within the region.