A NEWPORT-BASED drinks firm is launching an online shop in a bid to bounce back from being hit badly by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Sober, which took home the Startup Business of the Year award at last year's South Wales Argus Business Awards, is run by Newport man Richard Pollentine. It is a non-alcoholic drinks brand aimed at those who don't want to drink alcohol but still want to enjoy a good-tasting drink.

Mr Pollentine said: "When lockdown hit I put things on hold and worked part time. I was living with four high-risk family members who were shielding so it was my job to do the shopping etc.


"Covid-19 has affected businesses hugely including the launch of mine. But compared to many who have lost their lives or been ill as a result I'm pretty lucky. It's been tough but I won't give up anytime soon and I will get back the momentum to grow Sober.

"I then decided to rebrand Sober and make some improvements business-wise. I am actually going back to full time work for the NHS and running my business on the side."

Mr Pollentine added: "I was inspired to create Sober because I never liked alcohol. I spent my teens and early 20s clubbing with my friends at the time and was judged if I wanted a soft drink.

"I then spent time travelling and decided I didn’t care what people thought of me for not drinking so I stopped in 2008.

"After that I spent nine or so years regularly in pubs and clubs and with the same generic options and I wanted something different.

"The current non-alcoholic spirits and beers don’t appeal to me or people like me as I just wanted a better tasting easier to drink soft drink."

Mr Pollentine, who trained as a chef during his teens, then started developing flavour combinations and came up with two refreshing soft drinks which are below five per cent sugar and made with natural flavourings.

After setting up his business last year he sold 1,200 units in three weeks and was close to securing investment and stocking with businesses including Zip World and Bluestone for this summer prior to the lockdown.

Mr Pollentine said: "I’m having to almost start again. With everything that has happened with coronavirus, the investment fell through and trade clients put everything on hold until further notice.

"So I am launching an online shop where people can pre-order them direct and with 25 per cent off their first order if they sign up. I'm hoping to launch this soon but people can sign up now at www.soberdrinks.co.uk

"When the world gets back to normal we aim to get back our trade customers and grow into a significant brand in the UK and globally," he said.

Sober was not eligible for most of the government initiatives and still waiting to hear if it is eligible for the start up grant but it is continuing to be supported by Business Wales and Menter a busness's Cywain scheme.