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Arran's bid to reign in Spain gets festival lift

ARRAN Brewery has highlighted ambitions to grow sales in mainland Europe after taking its bow at a major craft beer festival in Zaragoza, Spain.

SCOPE TO GROW: Arran Brewery's managing director, Gerald Michaluk, said consumer thirst for craft beers across Europe is huge. Picture: Kevin Gibson
SCOPE TO GROW: Arran Brewery's managing director, Gerald Michaluk, said consumer thirst for craft beers across Europe is huge. Picture: Kevin Gibson

The company was the sole the UK brewer at the ArteBeer event in June, where its three core brands – Arran Blonde, Sunset and Dark –were sampled by more than 600 craft beer enthusiasts.

Contacts made at the festival, which was hosted by its local distributor, has led to the brewer winning listings in specialist beer shops in Zaragoza and Madrid, with the company hoping to build distribution across the whole of Spain.

With Arran's beers already selling well in France, managing director Gerald Michaluk said the scope for sales across Europe is significant. He said consumer thirst for craft beer is "huge" on the continental mainland and has appointed a sales manager for southern Europe, Luis Romero Pascual, as part of its drive.

Mr Michaluk said: "You're talking about at least 50% of what you do in the UK you can do again in Europe – easy.

"Craft beer in there [Spain] is exploding. We met some really creative brewers – we will be importing some of their beers and they will be distributing our beers.

"We have got 25 new accounts opening in the first week of being there, so it really is a super place."

The progress made by Arran in Europe comes as it prepares the ground for its "gypsy" brewing strategy, which will see its beers produced by partner breweries in key export locations.

The company, which also exports to Japan, has started the process of recruiting brewers from around the world for the purpose, each of whom will be brought to Arran for training. Mr Michaluk said it will be six months to a year before the first brewers are dispatched to their place of work.

Meanwhile, the brewer has reported it is struggling to keep up with demand for its range of specialist beers in the UK as a legacy of the power cuts which hit production last winter.

Mr Michaluk said the interruption, which has not affected sales of its core brands in supermarkets, has caused the brewer to miss slots on the bottling lines at Marston's and Holdens in England that are contracted to bottle its beers.

Arran's 12-plus specialist range, which are generally stocked by specialist beer retailers, include products like late-hopped and dry-hopped ales that generally take longer to mature.

Mr Michaluk said: "It is all about tankers and slots for bottling. When you lose a slot for bottling like that, you just can't get them.

"Sunny weather means you just can't get the bottling slots.

"That causes the problem. You've then got the beer but you can't send it for bottling, so you've got to bottle it in-house, which on hand bottlers is very [tough].

"It will take us a month to do that they can do in an hour at a high-speed bottling line."

Mr Michaluk said the situation has highlighted the need for the brewer to have its own bottling plant, which he hopes will be addressed with funds raised from a crowd-funding exercise to be launched in October.

The float, which will be similar to Brewdog's Equity for Punks scheme, will see Arran offer shares in the company to beer fans for £200, in return for privileges such as discounts, offers and event invitations, and potential dividends.

A maximum of £4 million can be generated from the float, and the firm plans to use the amount it raises to expand production on Arran and build a bottling line on the Scottish mainland.

It hopes to build the bottling line at the former Rosebank Distillery in Falkirk, which it plans to rename the Forth and Clyde Brewery.

Mr Michaluk anticipates the company can ultimately generate turnover of £7 million in the UK if those projects go ahead, which is around ten times the value of its current sales.

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