Die-hard entrepreneurs like GBL International’s founder, Steven Perez, come out fighting when they get a kick in the teeth. His first venture, the Global Beer Company, had sales of more than £10m at one time but went into receivership in 1996. He immediately set about founding GBL with two colleagues after spotting the increasing popularity of alcopops. The vodka-based drinks are particularly popular among 18-24 year-olds socialising in pubs and clubs throughout Europe. The Chesterfield company’s brands include Vodka Kick, Fire & Ice, Cavela and Coast. It claims to sell more than 3m bottles a week. As well as selling to brewers such as Carlsberg-Tetley, it also supplies Asda and Safeway. The company’s sales have grown 196% a year from £2.4m in 1999 to £62.2m in 2002. Perez is the driving force behind promoting the brand, adorning company cars and his own rally car with Vodka Kick advertisements.
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