Johnston Carmichael partners with new investment platform for brewers



Accountancy firm Johnston Carmichael has partnered with BrewFunder, a new first of its kind investment platform designed to bring brewers and potential investors together.

Adam Hardie, head of food and drink at Johnston Carmichael

BrewFunder has now opened for business as the drinks industry receives a significant boost with the continued relaxation of coronavirus restrictions.

BrewFunder is the brainchild of Toby Chantrell, the creator of the brewery procurement platform, BrewBroker and co-founder of Brew//LDN, the UK’s largest craft beer festival. This new venture aims to pair up breweries, that are ready for additional funding, with investors that have a specific interest in the brewing industry.

To maximise the effectiveness of the platform for both investors and brewers, Johnston Carmichael, one of the UK’s top 20 accountancy firms and a member of the PKF network, will perform comprehensive assessments of each potential investee to ensure they are “flight checked” and ready for investment.

Like much of the food and drink and hospitality industries, the coronavirus pandemic has thrown up a number of obstacles for the brewery sector. However, with the hospitality industry once again opening its doors, there is growing optimism amongst brewers that there will be opportunities to grow their customer base as thirsty drinkers pour back into pubs and beer gardens.

With ales and bitters retaining an estimated 19% of the total retail beer market there is certainly plenty to be positive about. Demand for craft beer certainly doesn’t seem to be diminishing either, with 40% of beer drinkers drinking a craft beer product in the three months to September 2020.

This is good news for the UK’s smaller breweries in particular and, despite the pandemic, has seen a number of brewers experiencing rapid growth which has only been curtailed by a lack of accessible funding. BrewFunder aims to bring more of these breweries into contact with investors to help supercharge the growth of the industry.

BrewFunder CEO, Toby Chantrell, said: “We work with brewers of all different sizes day in and day out and we’re now seeing more and more exciting businesses that are ready to grow. Like just about every sector, the last 12 months have not been without challenges for brewers as they have had to overcome hurdles, ranging from the logistics of safely managing production through to the changing patterns of demand as consumer habits have ebbed and flowed throughout the pandemic.

“Our experience has shown that the craft beer industry still has plenty of growing to do and there remains a consistent demand from customers seeking something different to the traditional mass market beers. What’s more, this customer base values quality over quantity, with more than half of customers happy to pay more for craft beer than for standard mass-produced products.

“It’s incredibly encouraging that we already have breweries from all across the UK ready to sign up. The potential of the sector, combined with the innovative and ambitious nature of many of the country’s best small breweries, make it an industry that is ripe for further investment. By partnering with Johnston Carmichael, we hope to prepare the breweries we work with so that they are ready to take the next step in their growth.”

Adam Hardie, head of food and drink at Johnston Carmichael, added: “The investment landscape has changed radically in recent years. Crowdfunding is now playing a much bigger role and investors are taking a more sector specific approach to which projects they choose to fund. Investors also tend to be time poor so getting the right project in front of them at the right time can be tricky. BrewFunder can do the heavy lifting for investors, ensuring that any businesses we put forward have had their pre-flight checks done and are ready to take the next step.

“As we continue to emerge from lockdown, we’re increasingly finding that breweries are ready to take the next step in terms of expansion but are unable to due to a lack of investment. Investors are looking for innovative and growing sectors to get involved with and we know for a fact that there are investors out there who are ready and willing to put money into brewery businesses. Working with the team at BrewFunder, it is now our aim to make it easier for investors to find the right project for them.”

As part of this year’s Brew//LDN event, Adam Hardie will be hosting a ‘meet the brewery investor event with Mark Crowther on 29th July. Mark, whose career has featured some of the biggest names in brewing, including Guinness and Carlsberg, has previously invested in both Curious and Portobello Breweries.

Registration for the event is open now and details can be found here.



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