A new craft day dawns for brewer

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Firm behind Keith Brewery unveils major growth plans

Tony Schofield is the CEO of newly-formed Consolidated Craft Breweries

THE team behind Keith Brewery has unveiled an ambitious growth strategy, including a move into the spirits sector and opening its own bars, on the back of a major cash injection from investors.

The plans were revealed after it secured funding from Dundee-based Discovery Investment Fund (DIF) – a privately-funded venture capital business – which enabled it to complete a spate of acquisitions last year, including Spey Valley Brewery, drinks distributor Firkin Express and Alechemy Brewing.

The move saw the enlarged group rebranded in late 2018 as Consolidated Craft Breweries, with former Pernod Ricard senior executive Tony Schofield installed as its chief executive, supported by Andrew Chapman, director of sales and marketing, and DIF investor Donald Smith.

Speaking to SLTN, Schofield said the acquisitions will bolster distribution of the group’s brands in pubs and bars and help establish Consolidated as a ‘go-to’ craft beer supplier for licensees.

“For licensees, we’re offering them a one-stop shop,” he said.

“They can come to us through Firkin Express and source all their craft needs; one invoice, one person.

“We’re open to working with other breweries as part of the group or in any way we can. When we bring [firms] in, they all become shareholders. We’re keen for all the companies, all the breweries involved, to keep their own identity as much as possible in terms of recipes, style and design. We don’t want to interfere with that.”

The firm is also set to move into the spirits sector with the launch of a gin under its new Speyside Spirits brand. And it is eyeing its own bars, with the first expected to open in Edinburgh before summer.

“We want to give something that’s simple, affordable, and good value for people,” said Schofield.

“We’re trying to offer a craft beer experience, but we don’t want to alienate anybody; not everyone likes craft beer.”

Andrew Chapman, the group’s director of sales and marketing, said the purchase and operation of its own pubs would also benefit the company’s beers – allowing for more experimentation with new flavours and styles.

“It means we can test the market a lot easier,” said Chapman.

“We can do small-batch beers; we can trial them in these premises.”

And Chapman said the company has expanded significantly since he joined the business in 2015.

“It’s a completely different company,” he said.

“When I think back to when I joined in 2015, other than the fact Keith is still a part of this new company, everything else, we’re just operating on a completely different level.”