Success for co-op breweries

Community Shares in locally produced craft beer sold quicker than a cold pint on a hot summer’s day as Northern Ireland’s two brewery co-ops brought in new public investment that will allow them to grow their businesses.

Lacada Brewery and Boundary Brewing certainly caught the public imagination as shares to existing and new members sold within days of launch. The new share offers mean not just additional finance but also growth in co-operative membership. At Co-operative Alternatives we have bought shares in both breweries and hope to  toast their success in the years to come.

Lacada sought to raise just over £12,000 last month – and the shares sold within five days. “Before deciding to hold another share offer, we went to our members and asked their thoughts. We gave current members the chance to increase their shares first and then put it out to the public with a £500 maximum purchase. We now have approximately 270 co-owners who are incredibly supportive of our business,” Laurie Davies from Lacada said.

Lacada’s first three craft beers produced in their Portrush brewery were launched on the market in October and the co-operative is expecting good sales in December.

“We offered our members the option to order beer at a specially discounted rate recently and the uptake was excellent. One of the strong points of being a co-operative is that you have a ready-made client base who are interested and keen for us to succeed,” he added.

The brewery has recently held a membership strategy day and has a range of plans to build the business which could involve brewery tours and beer tastings. “What came out strongly from our members is that being a co-operative is really important to them. We hope in the years to come that we can stand up as a model of good practice for co-ops.”

Boundary Brewing in East Belfast launched its latest Community Share offer on December 7th and within 24 hours had raised nearly £80,000 of the £90,000 minimum target.

”Just over 24 hours after opening our second Community Share offer to the public we’re delighted and amazed at the interest our invitation to #comejoinus has generated. In this short time we have nearly met our minimum target of £90,000 and we’d be awestruck to get to our cap £190,000 before Christmas.  Who knows what is possible when people choose to own a brewery or any co-operative business together,” said Matt Scrimgeour, Founding Board Member, Boundary Brewing.

Their three core beers are sold in shops in Belfast and they are hoping to export to the UK, Ireland and internationally next year.  In order to keep up with demand, they need automated bottle filling equipment that will allow them to quadruple sales.

Co-founder and brewer Matthew Dick said: “We were overwhelmed by the success of our first membership offer in December 2014, and didn’t expect to raise more than £100,000 in just eight days, and welcome 447 new members.

“Since then, the public has reacted phenomenally. And people outside of Northern Ireland are starting to pay attention, so much so that 12 new countries want our beer.”

“We are trying to raise more than £90,000, then we hope to invest in a new packaging machine, additional tanks to allow us to make a wider variety of special beers, along with some other exciting improvements to help grow sales here in Northern Ireland, the rest of the UK and Ireland, and internationally.”