Roberts to head Kent brewery - raises £600k for expansion

Tuesday 08th July 2014

Old Dairy Brewery, the Kent brewer founded in 2010, has raised £600,000 for expansion and announced the appointment of former Fuller’s Beer Company managing director John Roberts to lead a strengthened board as it enters a new phase, M&C Report has learnt.

The money has enabled the company to move from a milking parlour in Rolvenden to a new 30-barrel brewery, increasing capacity six-fold, in Tenterden. Roberts has been appointed managing director, with Peter Baker, former chief executive of baking group RHM, named chairman.

Operations at the new brewery begin on Monday (7 July).

Roberts told M&C Report that the Enterprise Investment Scheme fund raising programme attracted 29 investors. This included high profile figures from industry such as Alexander Hoare, former chief executive of City of London banking institution C Hoare & Co, who has a 10% stake, along with other high net worth individuals and local drinkers.

Old Dairy’s produces three core beers - Red Top, a 3.8% ABV classic best bitter; Gold Top, a 4.3% ABV golden pale ale; and Blue Top, a 4.8% ABV India pale ale - alongside other lines. The strapline is “fine ales from the garden of England”, and the branding is purposely different from the ‘edgy’ look popular with new wave craft brewers.

The company currently supplies its beers to freetrade customers but also into some sites operated by RealPubs, Urban Pubs and City Pub Company, where Roberts is a non-executive director. It’s also available in major national pub groups via the SIBA Direct Delivery Scheme.

On the prospect of Old Dairy opening a pub, Roberts told M&C Report: “I’m very keen to get the next 12 months under our belt and then we can start thinking about things some more. I wouldn’t rule it out for the future but it’s certainly not on our radar at the moment.”

The new team also includes Ed Taylor, formerly of Brake Brothers and Matthew Clark, as head of sales, and Bill Simmons, was has worked with Roberts at Fuller’s, as a consultant to lead supermarket and export trade sales.

Roberts said: “These are exciting times for the Old Dairy Brewery; overnight the business has been transformed into a fully-fledged, commercially funded and operated brewery from what had essentially been a hobby start up.

“The significant investment in our new Tenterden brewery, shop and offices has enabled us to expand brewing capacity and to commercialise our sales, marketing and operations, taking the business to the next level.

“We believe there is a great opportunity to develop the Old Dairy Brewery brand to encompass not just distribution to its garden of England heartland but to expand sales penetration throughout London and the south east and further afield to exploit the growing UK and international consumer interest in craft beers.

“Underlying this is our confidence in the high quality of the large number of beer brands we are brewing and its ability to quench the thirsts of our growing and loyal customer base.”

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