By Karen Peattie

SCOTTISH microbrewery Bellfield is ramping up plans for a strong comeback after a challenging period due to the coronavirus pandemic with new listings and encouraging growth in export markets.

Bellfield Brewery in Edinburgh, which claims to be the UK’s only exclusively gluten-free and vegan brewery, has secured a listing with Lidl as part of the supermarket’s summer beer festival this month that will see 330ml cans of its Bohemian Pilsner appear on shelves in 105 branches across Scotland.

The brewery lost 95% of its on-trade sales overnight when the country went into lockdown but moved quickly to capitalise on the online opportunity, seeing sales surge 3,400% as customers across the UK bought from the website and via Amazon.

Meanwhile, the company has unveiled new branding and on Monday will launch a two-week TV advertising campaign as part of the STV Growth Fund. Bellfield is also investing in production equipment and a £25,000 all-weather beer garden at its brewery taproom near the capital’s city centre – this opened in July and allows for socially-distanced drinking.

Alistair Brown, Bellfield’s chief executive, said the firm’s investment strategy was partly aimed at helping to sustain the recent growth in online sales and gain new export listings. Bellfield currently exports to Italy, Malta, Switzerland, UAE and Singapore. Export sales, which represented 15% of all sales revenue in 2019, had tailed off but have started to pick up again, he added.

Mr Brown said: “We’re working hard to grow our business in the UK and internationally to become a premium-positioned beer brand. We plan to invest heavily in marketing to raise awareness of our award-winning beers, and to win more listings and drive export sales.”

“Our new brewhouse and further planned investment in production equipment will allow us to scale up production to meet demand in the UK and overseas.”

New branding and packaging, Mr Brown added, representing a project investment of £50,000, “builds on our heritage while its vibrant and impactful design reflects our beers and the spirit of the business”.

Since launching in 2015, Bellfield has created 10 jobs at the brewery in Abbeyhill. Pre-Covid, it has experienced an average annual growth rate in sales revenue of 93% over the last three years.

Looking ahead to 2021, Bellfield hopes to bring back tours, tastings and events at its brewery and taproom in Abbeyhill. The firm also plans to invest in additional production vessels and an on-site packaging facility to further expand production capacity.