Finance

Brewgooder founder goes back to basics


Brewgooder’s founder has stated his aim of trebling the size of his business by 2023, turning it from a charity project into a sustainable company for the future.

Speaking exclusively to Insider, Alan Mahon explained that the coronavirus-related challenges of the last 18 months have led to a rethinking and refocusing for the beer brand.

Plans for a collaboration campaign with more than 250 breweries around the world were set to launch on 20 March last year, but the first UK lockdown put paid to them, so instead Brewgooder came up with the One On Us initiative, letting people send a beer to those keyworkers on the front line of the fight against Covid-19.

“The pandemic really decimated our industry, but it gave us the kick up the arse we needed to refocus, rebrand, and we’re now actually in a better position,” Mahon commented.

“We realised that if most of our sales channels were shut, we might not make profit again for the next few years – and if 100% of those go to water projects then we need to rethink.”



Brewgooder founder Alan Mahon
Brewgooder founder Alan Mahon

The result was a new model which will help Brewgooder scale up the impact of the money it gives to charitable projects, while also letting drinkers follow their contribution more interactively.

“I was always asked about what can individual drinkers contribute, so now we can work out exactly how much projects are costing, what can be attributed to each can via QR codes,” Mahon said.

Given the small size of Brewgooder’s team it was almost impossible to furlough anyone, so the start-up did not tap into any government support schemes until much later last year.

Crucially, the company’s distribution partner Filshill maintained its support, as did recent financial backer SIS Ventures, so while half its sales channels disappeared, growth in direct-to-consumer and off-trade grew to put it in roughly the same position from the previous year.

During the last year, £50,000 worth of funding went to clean water projects, alongside £2,000 per year to Brewgooder’s Heriot-Watt Scholarship, which aims to improve diversity in the brewing and distilling industry.

Mahon said the business is aiming to go from £750,000 in pre-pandemic trading to more than £2m by end of 2023.

He spent much of last year trying to put in place more solid foundations for growth, admitting that, for instance, the average age of staff was quite young.

Going some way to redressing this balance was the recent appointment of Damon Swarbrick as interim managing director – someone with a lot of industry experience, having previously been chief executive of Kingfisher Beer Europe and strategic planning manager at Heineken UK.

Brewgooder also took the opportunity to strip its design back with a major rebrand and focus on its three main beers.

Mahon says the business is considering international expansion opportunities, potential further outside investment and on-trade retail space developments, but these are all secondary to getting the basics right.

He won’t rule out moving away from the company’s current distributed model – using the infrastructure at other breweries for production – to creating its own facilities in the future, but the current system has given crucial flexibility during the pandemic.

More collaborations are in the pipeline, including one with the Co-op and another big Christmas campaign.

Mahon added that the way charity projects are chosen has also had to be scaled up, with partner Charity Water now proposing potential projects, rather than the hand picking method used at the beginning.

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