DORSET’S first gin distillery – founded just four years ago by a “disgruntled quantity surveyor” – is seeking £650,000 for a major expansion.

Conker Spirit was founded only four years ago and its bid for new funding values the business at £4million.

Rupert Holloway, founder of the Southbourne-based brand, appeared before potential investors from Dorset Business Angels at its latest pitch event.

He told how the business now had eight staff, distilling and bottling more than 1,000 bottles a week. It supplies Waitrose, Marks & Spencer and Fortnum & Mason, with Tesco and Ocado to follow.

Mr Holloway said: “We are hugely keen to capitalise on our brand value and move into national distribution, begin exporting and up-scale our facilities and premises to a much larger scale world-class visitor distillery.”

The business has identified a need for £650,000 in investment and is seeking equity funding of £400,000.

Mr Holloway said: “We aim to invest in our building, to restore and fit it out and create one of best distillery visitor attractions in the UK with a world class reputation, thereby allowing us to build brand visibility and reputation and diversify into the ‘experience’ and the night- time attraction economy.”

He sought investment for 1,000 litre pot stills, as well as coffee brewing equipment, allowing it to improve efficiency and achieve one week of distillery activity in a day. It would also be able to introduce new lines such as whiskey.

It would create jobs and new products, including a club based on monthly subscriptions, offering members access to spirits and its research and development laboratory.

Five potential investors from Dorset Business Angels showed “keen interest”, the organisation said.

Mr Holloway has said the business “all stems back to me being a disgruntled quantity surveyor”.

He started with a £10,000 grant, a £10,000 start-up loan and the money he raised by selling his car.

“It was a whole year until we sold our first bottle,” he told the Daily Echo in 2017.

The pitch event also heard from a business producing financial services compliance software. It is seeking £3m in equity and debt and attracted interest from four investors.

Other ideas pitched were:

n A company describing itself as the “Netflix of fitness”, promoting apps and training programmes,

n A business with a predictive model for identifying “burnout” in the workplace.

n A company whose technology replaces the “red button” alert pendants used by elderly people to report accidents at home.

Don McQueen, chairman of Dorset Business Angels, said: “It was great to see several new faces at this event. It is always good to welcome potential investors and partners to come along, network and maybe discover an exciting, new investor proposition. We were delighted too to have the presence of Dorset Chamber’s president Liz Willingham, who has shown a keen interest in Dorset Business Angels.”

The event, at the Hallmark Carlton Hotel, was sponsored by Ellis Jones Solicitors, Saffery Champness Accountants and Investec Wealth and Investment.