ABOUT THE COMPANY
With more than 20-years-experience as the founding directors of North Bar Group, managing a total of seven pubs across the portfolio, John Gyngell and Christian Townsley had the knowledge, experience and relationships they needed to extend their business, turning their dream of brewing their own range of quality beers into reality.
With many customers considering North Bar to be the ‘first craft beer bar in Britain’, the duo had built-up their credibility within the sector, which made brewing their own range of drinks an obvious next step as the company continued to evolve and create new routes to market.
The business partners put their plans into motion in 2015 when they launched North Brewing Co, the subsidiary that would brew beers for sale across pub chains and direct to customers through general retail.
Based in Leeds, John and Christian set out to brew beers that were full of flavour and would be enjoyed by a growing market of enthusiasts that would appreciate the art of creating quality ales. Becoming increasingly popular, the company quickly realised that it was reaching its production capacity, which over time would limit its opportunities for growth.
To put in place the necessary infrastructure to meet with growing demand, the company needed capital investment that would support with the purchase of additional equipment to increase capacity and also staff costs that would provide the resource to make the range of beers.
The pair set about researching all funding channels and grants that were available from across the Yorkshire region and throughout the country.
Hearing about AD:VENTURE, Christian arranged a meeting with Business Advisor, Haroon Quammar. The initial session was used to break-down all elements to the company to identify where support was required and what the plans were for the next 12 to 18 months.
This diagnostic session made it clear that whilst the business model was sustainable there were no formal plans in place to support its strategy for growth and expansion.
Haroon comments: “It was at this point, following a number of meetings, that I made it clear that there was no point in putting the business plan to the bottom of the list; if the company wanted to secure the funding that would allow it to invest in setting the foundations for the future then these actions would have to become a priority. Getting a plan in writing is a fundamental part of this process and is a must when you are asking people to take you seriously and invest in your business.”
Haroon worked closely with the team and the Financial Director at the business to offer practical support and guidance to put together a robust and structured business plan that would set out the succession and financials required to build the business over a sustained period.
Using this support and the lessons that he had learnt from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business Programme, Christian submitted an application to the AD:VENTURE Grant Programme to secure a match-funded investment of £21,000.
Christian comments: “People may think that launching a range of products that are so popular is a good thing, but the truth is that if we were unable to supply our customers it would mean that we weren’t delivering the experience and the service that we had promised.
“We realised very quickly that we needed to invest in more equipment and also to appoint three new members to the team. This would provide us with the infrastructure we needed to continue to expand and meet with the growing needs of our customers.
“The challenge was letting the day job get in the way of the planning. Putting pen to paper isn’t always as easy as it sounds but thankfully Haroon was there to keep us focused. Securing the funding was a real step-change for our business and has really raised the bar.
“We never thought the popularity of our range of craft beers would hinder our progression – but it just goes to show how important it is to plan so lack of funds don’t hold you back.”
Securing £21,000 and receiving the practical support required meant that North Brewing Co could focus on growth and future plans, which otherwise would have stalled. Since the investment was made, the business has continued to expand and now supplies retailers, as well as bars, pubs and clubs throughout the country.
The company has also continued to invest and recently signed the lease on a third storage unit to extend its capacity even further. It has also secured a contract to supply 20 of the 26 Booths supermarkets that are based throughout the North of England and is also exporting to eight European countries as well as China and Singapore.
The business has also won several awards. It has been voted ‘Best IPA in 2017’ in the Imbibe ‘IPA Challenge’ for Transmission, named ‘Best Brewery Pub Company‘ in The Publican Awards and awarded ‘Best New Brewery‘ in West Yorkshire in the Rate Beer Awards.
Using their knowledge, experience and passion for crafting excellent quality beers, the company is now considering further investment opportunities that will once again support the phased expansion of the business.
Christian comments: “It’s been a real rollercoaster of a journey for us and it’s fair to say that without AD:VENTURE we would have struggled to meet with demand in the early stages. It’s great to have a product that is popular but it’s just as important to remain true to your values and maintain the quality that people have come to expect of us.
“We can’t thank Haroon and the team enough and would absolutely recommend the programme to any progressive business that wants to put its plans into practice. We’ve heard that some people believe that the programme is too good to be true, but we are proof that it really does work.
“It’s not just about the growth of the business but also the fact that we were able to recruit three new members of staff. This has an impact on them as individuals and gives us the resource we need. Knowing that we are giving people the chance to learn a craft and to be a part of a beer revolution is really rewarding.”