Retail pro takes his real soda revolution to the supermarkets


A special loan for business start-ups that want an alternative to traditional finance means a former supermarket buyer could soon be on the other side of the checkout – selling his own products to big brand retailers. 

Brian O’Shea spent 20 years working for supermarket giants including ASDA and Sainsbury’s and even set up his own consultancy to help small producers start trading with big buyers.

Now, after launching his own premium soda company with a Start Up Loan from Transmit Start-Ups, Brian aims to use his insight into behind-the-shelves decision-making to get his own products stocked by the supermarkets. 

Brian launched The Paisley Drinks Company in February this year after spotting a gap in the market for craft soda made using only natural ingredients and processes – not loaded with sugar or artificial sweeteners – and blended with pure Scottish water. 

And with a £10,000 Start Up Loan financing recipe development, the company’s unique product range prides itself on offering a fun and guilt-free alternative to chemical fizz with flavours ranging from strawberry coconut soda and rhubarb cream soda to blueberry ginger soda. 

Brian said: “We wanted to develop unique flavours that would set the Paisley Drinks Company apart from others and that would really resonate with customers. For example, the strawberry coconut soda is based on Scotland’s favourite sweet treat, the snowball, a classic biscuit that’s filled with jam and sells by the millions. It’s also pretty incredible when mixed with rum and has become my own new favourite tipple! 

“This idea for a craft soda came to me when my wife was pregnant and was looking for an interesting, non-alcoholic drink when we went out to eat and we realised how limited the choice is.  

“We’ve seen the rise of craft beer and gin but there’s nothing when it comes to premium craft sodas and why should people who don’t drink alcohol have to be limited to a few dull options on the bottom of the menu? The sodas also made refreshing alternatives as mixers to spirits too and we are in the process of working with a mixologist to develop some incredible combinations.”

Dozens of bars, cafes and restaurants in the Paisley area are already stocking the craft range and a new deal with a wholesaler will extend distribution to farm shops and other outlets. Next, Brian has his sights set on bringing his real soda revolution to the supermarkets. 

He added: “We are born in Paisley and though we are a small local company we have big ambition. Our individual serving bottles have been really popular with independent stockists and our next move is to consider other formats to allow us to compete with the big brands currently on the supermarket shelves.”

Transmit Start-Ups is the UK’s leading provider of Government-backed Start Up Loans and has backed the business dreams of 1,168 entrepreneurs in Scotland with over £13 million in finance. Transmit’s loans offer entrepreneurs an alternative to traditional finance, with low interest repayments and high-impact mentoring.

The Paisley Drinks Company worked with Transmit Start-Ups’ Business Adviser Morag Kelly to secure their investment.

Morag said: “We’re thrilled to have played a part in getting the Paisley Drinks Company off the ground and into production and we really look forward to the next chapter in their start-up journey.

“There are some incredibly exciting food and beverage businesses starting up in Scotland and it’s great to see them go from strength to strength.”

Transmit Start-Ups is part of the Transmit Group of companies which offer funding, consulting, coaching and mentoring services to entrepreneurs throughout their business journey. 

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