ARRAN Brewery has set up an operation in Texas to build American sales of its brands and other craft beers from around the UK.

The new operation is headed by Karen Mills, a former finance director of the US Rice Producers Association, who has been handed the task of obtaining import licences for the company in 50 states.

Although the bulk of craft beer is sold on the east and west coasts of the US, Texas was chosen thanks to the relative ease of setting up the company there - and since it is where Ms Mills lives.

Gerald Michaluk, managing director of Arran Brewery, said his company will look to export its core Arran Blonde, Dark and Brewery Dug brands, alongside craft beers from other breweries, into its US distribution network.

He said this approach reduced the risk and expense faced by small producers aiming to break into the US.

This is partly because of the "three-tier system", which means an exporter must have an importer which is independent of its wholesaler and in turn the retailers, and also because each state has its own regulatory requirements.

Mr Michaluk said a further attraction of trading in the US was getting access to the financial markets.

He said: "America's craft-beer sector is on fire. You fall over people trying to give you money because they see it as an investment, whereas because over here they have not defined craft beer it makes it difficult for investors to see clearly how much growth there is going to be in the UK market.

"In America, by defining craft beer and excluding the very big multinationals, it means that all that growth is going to small companies."

The new company has been launched as craft-beer sales boom in North America. Figures suggest the sector grew by 18 per cent in the last six months.

Locally made beer is ­driving much of the growth, but Mr Michaluk said the import sector is "growing substantially".