Drinks veteran is thinking big

Brewery’s new boss has ambitious plans to grow the business

Executive decision: Baudry at the Harviestoun brewery. Baudry plans to double the business in three years

BRUNO Baudry, the recently-appointed chief executive of Scottish craft brewer Harviestoun, has quite the CV.

The Frenchman spent three decades in Asia, working for drinks businesses that included Castel Wines, Codorniu and Japanese giant Suntory – ultimately heading its Asian wine business with a workforce of around 1200 employees.

It was after striking out on his own, working as a consultant for drinks businesses looking to build their profile in Asia, that he first encountered Alva-based Harviestoun, which was looking to grow its export business.

However, when the brewery’s former managing director left the business, owners Donald MacDonald and Sandy Orr approached Baudry to get more involved.

“After learning a bit more about Harviestoun’s business here in the UK, seeing the great potential this industry has and what Harviestoun has to offer, I took the decision to move my family to London and become the full-time CEO of the company rather than working from Singapore,” Baudry told SLTN. 

“I agreed to move here because I really, truly believe in the future of the craft beer industry but also in the future of Harviestoun.”

Comparing the UK – where craft beer makes up less than 5% of the total beer market – with the US, where it accounts for around 15%, Baudry said he is confident there is still plenty room for craft to grow in Scotland and across the UK.

Some of the brewery’s current range of beers

Currently, the majority of the brewery’s UK business is on-trade, and Baudry said there is scope to grow this side of the business and, although there are no immediate plans, he “wouldn’t rule out the possibility of having a couple of flagship establishments” in the years ahead.

Short-term, the UK off-trade will be a considerable focus.

Overseas, too, there is significant demand for Scottish products.

“The Scottish image overseas is excellent,” he said.

“In Asia ‘made in Scotland’ is a brand.

“When you think of Scotland, you think of fresh products, nature, beautiful environment. All of which means excellent quality food and drink.

“The whiskies were the starting point, but now it’s not just the whiskies.

“Made in Scotland is becoming big.”

Even so, accepting the role at Harviestoun wasn’t a straightforward decision, and before accepting the position Baudry looked for assurances that the owners were committed to investing in the business, both in terms of staff and facilities.

Baudry said the entrepreneurs were able to assure him that they were “absolutely committed to the biggest success possible for Harviestoun”.

The immediate goal, he said, is to double the Harviestoun business within the next three years.

Plans are already underway, with new sales and marketing staff recruited in London and Scotland and three senior recruits due to join the business on November 1.

The company is also recruiting for a European export manager to focus on growing the brewery’s presence on the continent.

When Baudry joined the company earlier this year Harviestoun employed 21 staff.

That is now sitting at 32, with more appointments to follow.

“The team is always more important than anything else, and I’m really trying to make this team become a family, rather than individuals working for different objectives,” said Baudry.

“We’ve got a lot of good people in the offices and in the brewery, and I hope that with the support of the team we will be very successful.”

One of the most important aspects of growing the business will be repositioning the Harviestoun brand to attract a younger target audience.

The range – which includes Schiehallion lager, Bitter & Twisted golden ale, Broken Dial amber ale and black ale Old Engine Oil – will be relaunched in the new year.

As well as refreshed packaging skewed towards a younger craft beer drinker, the relaunched range will feature some new additions.

On the marketing side, Harviestoun is already a sponsor of the Scottish Album of the Year Award and there are plans to involve the brand  in other Scottish music and arts events.

“We are going to spend a bit more money in Scotland,” said Baudry.

“To attract a younger crowd we need to look a little bit younger, speak a younger language.

“So we need to be more present on social media – you do not interact with people my age the way you interact with a younger crowd.”

Baudry described the growth plans as a “realistic, aggressive goal” and said the company wants to be “as strong as we can in our own back yard”.

“We are a Scottish brewery and I’m really convinced that what we have up there in Alva is fantastic,” he said.