Scottish brewer toasts beer deal with Sainsbury’s

Richard McLelland confident of hitting �5m annual turnover. Picture: Contributed
Richard McLelland confident of hitting �5m annual turnover. Picture: Contributed
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Williams Brothers, the Alloa-based brewery, is rolling out the barrel to celebrate landing a lucrative 11-product listing with Sainsbury’s.

The UK’s third-largest supermarket chain already stocks five of the craft brewer’s beers but is now expanding its range by an additional six product lines – a move that Williams says is “unheard of in the industry”.

Sainsbury’s said demand for bottled ales has been increasing “exponentially” of late.

The deal comes as Williams Brothers is about to reveal figures showing the scale of its growth in recent years. Sales director Richard McLelland said: “In the two years that I have been working with the ‘brotherhood’, the team has taken the overall turnover from £2.9 million to beyond our target of £4m at our year end in May 2013.”

“In addition to this, our expansion in key export markets, our continued exponential growth across the UK’s on-trade craft keg scene and the use of the brewery as a ‘Scottish hub’ for craft beer – bottling for the likes of Fyne Ales, Thistly Cross Cider and Harviestoun – means I am confident that we will [pass] £5m in 2014.”

McLelland said that, to cope with increased demand and turnover, the company is carrying out an expansion project that will see the footprint of the brewery increase by 33 per cent, the installation of a £660,000 state-of-the-art bottling machine and the creation of nine new jobs at its Alloa base. The total cost of the project will be more than £1m.

A spokesman for Sainsbury’s said the supermarket is looking to expand its Scottish craft beer offering in line with growing consumer interest.

“Demand for bottled ales has grown exponentially in the past 12 months as the UK craft beer movement continues to gather momentum,” he added.

Established in 1987, Williams Brothers currently exports its beers to more than 25 countries, with North America, Russia and Scandinavia all considered key international markets.

The brewer will get a further boost next month as three of its latest labels are set to be included in Sainsbury’s “great British beer hunt”, which launches in September.