A PKF Francis Clark profile of the Moor Beer Company in early 2015 revealed a highly successful, ambitious and award-winning privately owned specialist brewery which had relocated from rural Somerset to a more business friendly industrial unit close to Temple Meads Station in Bristol.
Owners Justin & Maryann Hawke arrived with four fermentation tanks and added a bottling line for their pioneering unfined, hazy and hoppy beers. They operated with seven employees, installed a tap room, began to accumulate awards and planned to double in size as soon as they were able.
Their dedication to a brewing philosophy that combines ethical and sustainable methods produces the highest quality of finished products. This is combined with a determination to grow organically and by constantly reinvesting profits and carefully targeting their markets to maintain brand value, the results have been exceptional.
Last year the business marked its 10th anniversary and Justin and Maryann had a lot to celebrate. They now employ 20 staff, operate 14 fermentation tanks and produce approximately 6,000 hectolitres each year exporting 45% to 20 countries around the world. 2016 saw production increase by 54% with a 74% rise in turnover.
Replacing the bottling line with a canning line was the big decision of 2015 but one that has paid dividends.
Unlike bottles, cans don’t let in oxygen or light; they are lighter and more efficiently shaped, infinitely recyclable and better for the environment; they cool down much quicker than glass and, for marketing purposes, have more space for branding and communication. Moor Beer is now the first brewery to have Campaign for Real Ale accreditation for cask, keg, bottle and can and is also the only producer to have CAMRA accreditation for real ale in cans.
The business has now opened a second site with the acquisition of 2000 sq ft of prime location on the Bermondsey Beer Mile in London which acts as a distribution hub to bolster the availability of its award-winning beers. It also has a tap bar and a number of barrel ageing projects set to produce some premium beers for the future.
Success hasn’t gone unnoticed. In addition to the innumerable product awards enjoyed by Moor Beer, Justin Hawke was named Brewer of the Year 2017 by the British Guild of Beer Writers.
Justin Hawke said:
“We continue to gain market share and grow but competition is also growing. There are more and more micro and craft breweries than ever while the big breweries are looking to add craft beers to their offering through acquisition.”
Justin is fully aware that it’s challenging market and that rapid growth amongst the competition has usually been kick started through crowd funding. Moor Beer, however, is 100% family owned, a limited company with just 2 shareholders, Justin and his wife Maryann.
“There are no investors”, said Justin, “no one to answer to, so we can take a much longer term view of where we are going. We can make quicker decisions but we have to be prudent. We are constantly reinvesting the profits that we make to grow the business. Crowd funded competitors may be able to grow more quickly than us be but we are able to grow more ethically and sustainably.
“People can taste it in our beer because we don’t have to compromise on anything. We don’t follow trends like many of the competition who rely on social media to chase whatever is today’s hype. We also don’t force carbonate our beers allowing the process to occur naturally. This gives our competitors around a three week production edge over us and has cost us a lot in terms of investment but ours is a natural product and that’s what sets our beers apart.
“We have enjoyed year on year growth and plan to double in size again within two years and then do it again. We want to achieve this by sticking to our principles and our dedication to brewing naturally cloudy, naturally conditioned beer that focusses on innovation and quality.
“We sell direct to pubs, wholesalers and larger groups of restaurants and pubs. Previously we targeted highly specialist beer outlets or beer retailers but with increasing competition and new artisan breweries, we can’t rely on that niche market alone so we need to expand and broaden our target markets.
“We have had offers from major multiples which we could accept at any time and jump to the next level but it’s incredibly low margin and would devalue the brand so we stay away from that and focus on quality organisations that we want to work with.”
PKF Francis Clark advise the Moor Beer Company on business strategy undertaking the company’s accounts, business and personal taxation and payroll. They have previously helped with setting up a Self-Invested Personal Pension as a vehicle for acquiring the Bristol premises as well as advising on grant applications and R&D Tax Credits.
PKF Francis Clark partner Nick Farrant said:
“The Moor Beer Company is a true success story based on a clear vision of what Justin and Maryann have set out. They have witnessed year on year growth and, given their abilities, products and award- winning track record, there is no reason why they should not continue to do so.”