November 8, 2023
West Flemish LiQ did not make a breakthrough with its own alcohol ice cream. By collaborating with Baileys and Malibu, we are now fully expanding abroad. The products are for sale in thousands of European supermarket chain stores. The ambitions are also great in Belgium.
Entrepreneurship happens through trial and error. Jorgo Struyve (29) and Nicolas Destoop (30) can speak to this. In recent years they tried to expand LiQ, their brand of ice cream with alcohol in it. In the summer of 2020, their jars with the flavors rum-strawberry, amaretto-cookie and Irish coffee-crumble were on the shelves of 700 stores of Delhaize, Carrefour and Spar.
LiQ launched its new products in thousands of supermarkets in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the UK, Switzerland and Portugal in recent months.
They wanted to make alcohol ice cream as successful in Belgium as it was in the US, where the enterprising duo had discovered the striking product five years earlier. Moreover, they also beckoned to the rest of Europe. LiQ had to be profitable by 2022.
It didn’t get that far. The collaboration with Delhaize ended after two years. LiQ is still writing red figures, which means that its equity was 850,000 euros negative last year. The explanation is simple: the products of that time did not catch on. “We could not make a difference with the major ice cream brands with our own brand of ice cream,” says Struyve. ‘We did not have the necessary marketing budget to turn LiQ into a major brand.’
Yet the entrepreneurs do not put their dream away. Last year, after a tabula rasa, they replaced the jars of ice cream with ice cream pralines. They taste like the Malibu and Baileys drinks and contain between 0.6 and 1 percent alcohol. The logos of the major beverage brands are prominently displayed on the packaging to convince more customers. ‘Our own name is also on it, because we still want to develop our own brand. To make this happen faster, we focus exclusively on collaborations with well-known beverage manufacturers,” says Struyve.
We still want to expand our own brand, but now focus exclusively on collaborations with well-known beverage manufacturers.
The new strategy focuses mainly on abroad. Since the beginning of this year, the products have been for sale in around 3,000 stores of the German supermarket chains Kaufland, Edeka, Tegut and REWE. This month, the British supermarkets of Morrisons and Costco, the online supermarket Ocado and 700 stores of the Dutch supermarket chain Jumbo followed. The chocolates are also available in 700 Coop supermarkets in Switzerland and 80 Auchan stores in Portugal.
Belgium now accounts for only 5 percent of turnover. The ice cream pralines – which LiQ, like its ice cream pots of yesteryear, has made externally – are available in Belgian Jumbos, at OKay and at Intermarché. They will be available at Colruyt and Spar from November 15.
- In 2015, two young entrepreneurs started experimenting with ice cream with spirit flavors.
- In 2020, their LiQ brand was in hundreds of Belgian supermarkets.
- But the products did not find their way to the customer sufficiently.
- That is why the entrepreneurs behind LiQ are now changing course and launching a new strategy.
Entrepreneurs have become cautious with statements about their financial ambitions. They also do not want to say how much turnover they are booking today. Three years ago it was half a million euros. “Thanks to our new strategy, we are growing significantly,” says Struyve.
The wind that blew through the LiQ range also went through the shareholding. A capital increase took place in April that pumped a total of 1.5 million euros into the company. This was necessary to supplement the negative equity and implement the growth plans.
LiQ remains vague about who provided the financing. In the Staatsblad you can read how the Belfius bank and the entrepreneurs Arthur Teerlynck and Jan Ollevier (the owner of the Juntoo, Exterioo and X2O retail chains) converted subordinated loans into shares. LiQ says it is open to additional investors to further enable international growth.
Struyve and Destoop have been minority shareholders since a previous capital increase three years ago, but the daily management of LiQ is still in their hands.