Melton based Round Corner Brewing is set to double its output this year thanks to a grant from the Business Gateway Growth Hub and its ability to adapt the production of its world-class craft beers during the Covid-19 crisis.
Although RCB are just 2 years old, it has already won numerous industry awards including best draft lager in the world at the International Brewing Awards (the Oscars of Beer) for their Gunmetal Black Lager in 2019 and no less than 6 awards at the recent World Beer Awards in September.
RCB is co-founded by Colin Paige and Combie Cryan and the idea had been ‘brewing’ since 2005 when the friends met in New Zealand. Colin is an international master brewer and Combie is the beer-loving CEO taking care of the business and finance side. They have over 25 years of business and brewing experience and started RCB at Melton Mowbray Market in December 2018.
Front Colin Paige, back l-r Combie Cryan, Ann Cook, Rita Ram. Photo: Beth Walsh.
As the country went into lockdown the demand for beer switched overnight from pubs and bars (95% of their business) to shops, supermarkets and online, although this trend towards retail was already happening before the pandemic.
For RCB this was a huge opportunity, but they couldn’t supply to retailers without a major investment, particularly as they outsourced canning of their beers to third parties who weren’t as quality and deadline focused as RCB needed them to be. RCB also needed to increase volume and lower unit price of their cans to fulfil the bulk buying needs of supermarkets.
Following support from Ann Cook, Business Gateway Adviser and Rita Ram, Business Gateway Support Officer, RCB successfully secured a £25,000 Business Growth Grant towards a new in-house canning line. They have also invested in a can wrap-around labeller and date-coding inkjet plus other kit making a total investment of close to £200,000 in the business.
Combie Cryan, CEO said: “The canning line marks a pivot in our business away from a focus solely on draft beer sold in pubs and into cans sold in retail outlets. The grant has had a critical impact on our business. People in lockdown wanted their beer at home. With this investment, we’ve been able to go national and chase high volume business and all with a greater level of confidence in the quality of the product.
“We can now produce retail-ready beer and react to the market much quicker as things change. We’re looking at an exponential increase in sales from a low base of 10,000 cans in 2019 to 75,000 this year, and double that by 2021.”
The team inside Round Corner's brewing space. Photo: Beth Walsh.
He added: “The support from Ann and Rita has been fantastic. The process was 100% robust. We were challenged on all the right things, but they had an eye on the end results as Covid had contracted timescales. Rather than leaving us to our own devices to apply, they worked with us dynamically, so we put an accurate and compelling case forward. I would be incredibly positive if anyone came my way and asked if they should go for this grant.”
Ann Cook said: “Combie and his team were quick to react to what has been a devastating time for many businesses. I’m delighted the Business Growth Grant has enabled them to capitalise on the opportunity and switch their focus to what the market now demands.”
Combie added: “This is a big step toward our ambitions to become a world-class brewery where we brew and package for other producers as well as ourselves. Just in its first few days of operation, our new canning line has produced 20,000 cans of our World Champion Gunmetal Black lager for a major supermarket.”
Now that’s certainly something to celebrate!
The Business Gateway offers Business Growth Grants to SMEs from £2,000 to £25,000 providing up to 35% towards the cost of capital projects. Businesses looking for help sourcing finance for development should visit the Business Gateway website for details of the support available or complete the online enquiry form.
The Business Gateway Growth Hub is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and run in partnership with Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP).
The taproom during 2019's Rare Foods Festival. Photo: NEMM.