Hope you’re all well and have managed to get through the last few months intact. It’s been a difficult time for everyone but hopefully there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
As a business, we, like many others, have been severely impacted by the crisis. Our volume output from March to June was roughly 25% of normal. We’ve furloughed almost all of our staff, taken advantage of Government support where available and taken repayment holidays on as many leases and finance agreements as possible. The future is still incredibly uncertain and there may still be some difficult decisions for us all to make but I’m confident we’ll be here to continue to supply you with top quality beers for some time to come.
The one decision that really wasn’t difficult to make is what I want to communicate in this blog. That is our decision to refocus Fallen Brewing entirely on the independent trade. The independent pubs, bars, freehouses, beer shops, specialist wholesalers, restaurants and everyone else who owns an independent business and shares our passion for beer. You are the businesses that helped us get a foothold in the market when we started. You are the ones who care about quality, variety, passion and innovation. Yes, we’re all still businesses and there is an inevitable focus on revenue, profit and survival, but mostly, we all care about great beer over and above all else.
As a first step in demonstrating our commitment to this refocus we’ve already stopped trading with all supermarkets and we no longer have any association with Molson Coors.
The COVID-19 crisis has given us time to reflect on what’s important to us as a business (and personally). At some point or another in the cycle of most growing businesses a decision has to be made about how large you want the business to get, what risks you’re willing to take and what sacrifices you’re willing to make to achieve these goals. The lure of expansion, increased revenues and increased profits can be strong but will always come at a financial risk. At the end of the day, you have to be true to yourself and really decide what you want for your business and for yourself. Some people will have been fortunate enough to have made that decision from the outset, others will have watched their businesses grow, evolve and change to become something they never, in their heart of hearts, believed it would or could have been. We were/are certainly in the latter camp. What started out as a lifestyle change very quickly became what I used to describe as a runaway train (cue groans for another train-based pun……sorry!) that caused all sorts of problems in balancing production and sales, space and infrastructure, cashflow and profitability. It’s now time to bring that train back under control and focus on what we believe is important.
For me, the most important thing has just been brewing great beer. It’s a wonderful feeling to see someone enjoying a beer that you’ve designed and brewed and giving you the ultimate compliment of ordering another one. We want to work with people who have the same passion for beer that we do. It’s why I started the business in the first place and why we’re working harder than ever to give you the freshest, tastiest beer possible. We’ve invested >£70k in new equipment (Bright Beer Tanks, carbonation infrastructure and monitoring, pumps and hoses) and updated our packaging processes. All in the name of sending out the best quality beer we can make and I can honestly say the canned beers are tasting better than ever.
It’s going to be a long road for many of us to rebuild our businesses after COVID-19 but it feels like an opportunity for a fresh start. We’re looking forward to focusing on and working with the people and businesses that matter to us. It feels like the shackles are off and we can get back to focusing on experimentation and innovation and the excitement of designing, brewing and launching new beers for you all to savour and enjoy.
We’ve got some exciting stuff coming up in the next month or two, including a brand refresh which we’ll be announcing shortly. This will include a new small-pack format and we’ll be sending out sample packs to independent businesses over the coming weeks. We’ll also be highlighting our environmental commitments and vegan-friendly products as well as giving everyone an insight into the new branding and some of the people and ideas that helped drive the refreshed look.
If you’re an independent wholesaler or retailer and would like to receive a trial pack or discuss stocking our beers please get in touch by email on firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07507 862167.
At the risk of finishing on a low, the recent announcements by HMRC on proposed changes to progressive beer duty (which gives small brewers like us a chance against the bigger guys) are potentially crippling for small brewers. Never has it been more important for small, like-minded, independent brewers to stick together and fight these proposals. If you agree, please support us and all the other small brewers by signing this: http://www.petition.parliament.uk/petitions/3340
Thanks for reading and good luck for the coming months.
Paul and the Fallen Brewing Team