Regional growth brings a record year for Woodforde’s brewery

Norfolk-based Woodforde's brewery said a strategy focused on regional growth had helped deliver a record year in 2011.

The brewery based in Woodbastwick, near Norwich, whose champion ales include Wherry and Nelson's Revenge, said sales were up 13pc while the volume of beer produced had risen 12.9pc from 17,908 casks to 20,221.

Managing director Rupert Farquharson, who stepped up from sales and marketing director last year, attributed the growth to 'the people who work within it'.

He added that growth mainly came in the spring and summer period on the back of great weather, and the highly successful Ale Trail promotion that took place in 470 pubs across the region, which helped bring customers into pubs.

The company, which employs 28 people declined to provide a turnover figure, but said there was growth in both sales and profits.

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July and August were both record sales months, while online sales and sales in the Woodforde's shop (on site at the brewery) were up more than 6pc on the previous year. Sales of bottled beer were up 20pc and beerboxes were up more than 3pc.

'It's been a fantastic year for Woodforde's,' Mr Farquharson said.

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'From an operational point of view we strive to focus on two things – beer quality and delivering exceptional customer service.

'The business is in good shape. Sales in Norfolk grew by about 6pc and considering that we have been established for some time, that's a really good effort.

'But the reality is that the beer market is still in decline, so we are taking someone else's volume. It's not pretty, so it's about having the right beer which people want to drink.'

He said that brewery saw regional expansion as key to its future strategy.

'The big growth came from Suffolk,' he said.

'It's about focusing on East Anglia. We believe that ales should be local and we've got no ambitions to try and cover the country.

'We are looking at Norfolk and Suffolk and hopefully this year we will try and do a bit more in Essex.

'Over the past year we've been developing new relationships while continuing to look after our long-term customers. Our expansion into London, our closer working relationship with Norwich City Football Club, and the new Union Ale brewed exclusively for the University of East Anglia are good examples of this.

'We've aimed to play a more active role in the local community by getting involved with regional food events and country shows. We have also teamed up with the Norfolk Wildlife Trust to raise more than �3,000 through sales of our latest beer, Once Bittern.

'We're a committed Norfolk brand championing local produce, and we try to work with other Norfolk businesses to make living in Norfolk even more special.''

Last year saw Woodforde's achieve 30 years in business. This was celebrated at the Royal Norfolk Show when the Princess Royal cut a 'Wherry' birthday cake in the Woodforde's beer tent.

Plans for 2012 include the forthcoming launch of new beer Norfolk Gem for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, which is expected to hit pubs in May, plus a series of scheduled appearances at East Anglian shows and food festivals.

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