A unique business started in the heart of York is set to go global after funding helped it to treble its turnover.
York-based the Potions Cauldron, a magical drinks emporium and mini golf brand, has grown significantly since securing a £100,000 investment from the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund.
The money enabled the business, which began on Shambles, to expand its operations, enhance its product line, establish additional sites across the UK, and set its eyes on international expansion.
Its success since opening in 2018 has led to it increasing its turnover from £1.4 million in 2022 to an expected £4.5 million in 2024.
Founded by Ben Fry and Phil Pinder, the Potions Cauldron initially sold drinks under its magic-themed branding, offering both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and cocktails which glitter, sparkle, and bubble when served.
The Potions Cauldron was impacted by the pandemic in 2020, losing the entirety of its wholesale arm of the business.
Ben and Phil realised The Potions Cauldron needed to diversify if it was to survive future seismic changes.
Famously, the pair appeared on Dragons’ Den – turning down an offer of £200K, the largest offer from a single dragon to ever be rebuffed in 18 years of the BBC One show.
Instead they chose NPIF investment. And that allowed the duo to expand a new business arm – following a first magic-themed mini golf site in York, The Hole In Wand in Blackpool opened in June 2022 and The Potions Cauldron on Rose Street in Edinburgh in June 2023.
Across each location, The Potions Cauldron has created 30 jobs, and is now looking to expand to other tourist locations like Keswick in 2024, with plans to launch ten further sites over the next five years.
As the business continues to grow, the magical drink range is now stocked in 120 HMV stores across the UK and is distributed to major retailers in the USA.
It is currently looking for a European distributor and has plans to export to the Middle East.
The business has also planned to partner with one of the world’s largest mass media and entertainment companies in the United States to bring its magical products to an established audience and is also exploring expansion into the accommodation market.
Ben Fry said: “The Potions Cauldron brand has grown to great heights over the past few years, which has been springboarded by NPIF investment.
“Our relationship with NPIF and BEF (Business Enterprise Fund) extends beyond formalities, where we’ve participated in coffee mornings and attended chamber dinners— their consistent support is invaluable, rooted in a genuine connection beyond the financial transactions.
“Our business is now growing at a faster rate than ever before, expanding across the UK and reaching across the Atlantic to future partnerships with US brands. We’re excited to see how our growth unfolds, and we’re holding fast to the team that helped us get here with their investment – BEF and NPIF.”
Mark Iley, senior investment manager at Business Enterprise Fund said: “We are delighted to have contributed to the growth and success of this unique Northern business which has ambitious plans for continued growth. We look forward to supporting Ben and Phil with the funding they need to ensure Potions Cauldron continues to flourish.”
Debbie Sorby, senior manager at the British Business Bank said: “The Potions Cauldron is one of the most unique businesses in the NPIF portfolio.
“From mythical gift sets to magical drinks and mini golf, The Potions Cauldron have come a long way since its first round of funding, and we’re looking forward to supporting the business to accelerate its growth even further.
“This is a stalwart Northern business that is playing its part in building a strong tourism and entertainment market across the country.”