From office junior to drinks tycoon for ‘tenacious’ Claire

Claire Hall, creator of Percy's Vodka Iced Teas, with senior lecturer Linda McWatt at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing in Holbeach.  Photo by Tim Wilson.
Claire Hall, creator of Percy's Vodka Iced Teas, with senior lecturer Linda McWatt at the National Centre for Food Manufacturing in Holbeach. Photo by Tim Wilson.
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A Kirton Holme drinks maker is marking ten years since unleashing her “percynalitea” onto the market.

Claire Hall (33) has overcome a lack of knowledge about the drinks industry to keep Percy’s Vodka Iced Teas in production.

Along the way, Claire reached the finals of business competitions run by Dragon’s Den TV star Peter Jones and fragrance pioneer Jo Malone.

Claire said: “After I finished at university in Wales, I was working in London as an office junior for a public relations company where I used to order in tea, coffees and lots of fruit drinks.

“I thought to myself that having a fruit tea business of my own would be great, as opposed to existing drinks businesses, because I could make up some new varieties at home for people who like tea but don’t like fizzy or sugary things.

“I did my first sampling in London’s West End in February 2005 and the response was fantastic, but I had no food production background and so experienced problems with upscaling my production.”

Claire received help in 2013 from the National Centre for Food Manufacturing (NCFM) where she is able to spend two full days a week producing about 700 bottles of her iced teas, made with fruit juice, tea and vodka distilled in Cambridge.

Linda McWatt, ssenior lecturer at NCFM, said: “Claire came here after applying for some government funding to launch a new product range, using surplus fruit from various companies that doesn’t meet the required specifications of supermarkets.

“At the same time, Claire wanted to revamp her existing iced tea products and we helped her by pasteurizing the drink so that they can have a longer shelf life and keep their colour.”

Claire has recently attracted interest from the United States where some savvy businessmen are keen to introduce Percy’s Vodka Iced Teas to a market where about 85 per cent of the tea drank is iced.

“Somebody told me that I’m a very tenacious person,” said Claire.

“I’ve definitely had some sleepless nights, but I don’t mind that because it means that I’m thinking about the products.”