Load of Bull! Anger as Red Bull ramps up threat against Norwich gin firm

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards, and John Bullard, unhappy with Red Bull as they are accusi

Russell Evans, left, founder of Bullards Spirits, and family shareholder John Bullard, who are unhappy with Red Bull - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

A much-loved city gin company has been met with more "corporate bullying" by a global fizzy drink giant. 

Bullards has been prominent in Norwich for more than 180 years.

But it has been told there is a "conflict of interest" in an apparent name clash with Red Bull. 

This is despite the fact the Austrian company has only existed for 35 years. 

Russell Evans, founder of Bullards, with the marked trade mark registrations that Red Bull want Bull

Russell Evans, founder of Bullards Spirits, with the marked trade mark registrations that Red Bull want Bullards to relinquish at their own cost. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

Bullards contacted the Evening News in September when Red Bull sent it a three page letter.

The gin company was given seven days by Red Bull's solicitor to sign and resolve the matter - but the Norwich bosses refused. 

And since then the global company has increased its threat. 

Russell Evans, founder of Bullards Spirits, said soft drinks have now been added to the long list of products Red Bull wants the Norwich company not to make.

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Mr Evans said: "Red Bull knew we were interested in producing soft drinks. Now that we have spoken in a public way they have decided they want to restrict us further. 

"The ridiculous thing is that Bullards used to make soft drinks in the past before energy drinks were even invented." 

A court date has not been set but Mr Evans said Red Bull is "working towards it". 

He added: "In my opinion, they are trying to grind us down and lose so much money that we throw in the towel but we won't. 

"It has already cost us tens of thousands of pounds, management time and worrying. 

"We have every confidence a court of law will see this as madness when we have been a premium gin company for 180 years." 

The Bullards Brewery workers. Picture: Archant

The Bullards Brewery workers. Picture: Archant

The Norwich company was revived as Bullards Spirits in 2015 through Mr Evans.

He said there had been a "groundswell of support" from customers and other companies since he went public with the Red Bull saga.

And he is determined not to create consumer confusion by dropping soft drinks from his radar.

Red Bull has said it does not believe it is appropriate to comment on a current legal case.

A previous Red Bull feud in Norwich 

Among the companies which have previously had a run-in with Red Bull is Redwell Brewing

The small brewery on the outskirts of the city was threatened back in 2013.

This was after Red Bull claimed the names were too similar and would confuse consumers.

But the Austrian energy drink company subsequently backed down saying there was in fact "no dispute here". 

Redwell Brewery, Norwich that has received correspondence from Red Bull requesting that they change

Redwell Brewery, Norwich that has received correspondence from Red Bull requesting that they change their name. Pictured left to right directors Amy Hancock, Patrick Fisher, Benjamin Thompson and Michael Baxter. Photo: Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

Red Bull agreed it was happy for Redwell to use its name as long as it did not use it for energy drinks.

Redwell was created in October 2012 with bosses saying they never had any intention to produce energy drinks after negotiating the settlement with Red Bull. 

The Bracondale craft brewery creates vegan and gluten free beers.

Meanwhile, Red Bull has reportedly sold more than 82 billion cans across the globe since it was launched in 1987.

It also sponsors sporting events and teams including the New York Red Bulls football team.