Beer for Good founder sells up to focus on security firm

The founder of Scotland's first hospitality social enterprise group, Beer for Good, has sold the business to focus on other social enterprise ventures.

Beer for Good owner Thewlis announced he will now focus on social enterprise security firm GTS Solutions, of which he is founder and chief executive. Picture: Steven Scott Taylor

Beer For Good founder Chris Thewlis has transferred his shares to Swedish businessman Mike Christopherson and his wife Anna, in what is thought to be one of the first examples of a UK entrepreneur selling a social enterprise for a profit.

Thewlis announced he will focus his efforts on capital-based security firm GTS Solutions, of which he is founder and chief executive.

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The new owners, who already own six bars in Edinburgh, including Akva, Boda and Hemma, intend to continue running the operation as a social enterprise and will take on responsibility for the company’s two Harry’s pubs and two cafés in the city.

In last two years, Harry’s turnover has increased from £120,000 to some £660,000, creating 19 jobs, with employees passing more than 130 certified courses.

Thewlis, who has lived in Scotland since moving from Huddersfield to study at Napier University in 2008, said: “It’s been a remarkable journey with Beer For Good in many ways. It was a privilege to help the chain grow since its formation three years ago, delivering on our social mission to help improve people’s lives along the way.

“While very rewarding, it was incredibly time-consuming and with GTS Solutions taking up more and more of my time, and more exciting opportunities on the horizon, I felt this was the time to pass it on to someone else.”

Private security business GTS recently announced that its turnover had doubled to £1 million in the past 12 months, forecasting sales to hit £5m in the next three years on the back of key contracts with Stirling Council and the University of Glasgow.

Thewlis added: “Mike is well positioned to take on the pub side and it was a great opportunity to do a good deal as he intends to keep it going as a social enterprise.

“He is very socially-minded so the whole thing fitted in perfectly. I’m sure it will go from strength to strength with him in charge as he continues to deliver sustainable change in the community.”

Thewlis is also the co-founder of Ginerosity, described as the world’s first social enterprise gin, and a board member of Social Enterprise Scotland.

He added: “This deal shows that the CIC [community interest company] model works; that a viable exit from a social enterprise is possible if the proper groundwork is put in.

“The social enterprise sector is thriving in Scotland at the moment and we remain a world leader in the field.

“GTS is a prime example of this and is going very strongly. That’s where I see my future and I’m very excited about what lies ahead.”