With the craft beer market increasing in popularity, Steel Brew owner Nick Palfrey, wanted to see if he could start his own brewery. He began his business journey with a homebrew beer kit which he set up in his garage back in 2018. Using alternative ingredients, Nick began experimenting with new flavours and soon created a distinctive recipe which he felt was commercial.
Nick first spoke to SWIG Finance about start-up funding in 2019, and successfully accessed £17,000 Start Up Loan. This support helped him to produce 750 litres of his craft beer and set up a taproom.
As the business matured, it went from strength to strength. However, whilst the new premises had been secured, it was forced to delay opening due to Covid – and this would have significantly impacted the business, had they not taken steps to future-proof by pivoting their business model.
With restrictions in place, Steel Brew Co diversified its income streams and began selling bottled beer online, which help raise the brand’s awareness and generate new sales.
In July 2021, the Steel Brew Co taproom was officially opened to the public and Nick could finally begin sharing his brews as planned in the beginning – as cask ales.
The business has received a hugely positive response from locals and visitors alike.
Soaring popularity, coupled with plans to sell through wholesalers and offsite through pop-up stands at food markets, music events and festivals, meant that the business needed to increase their production levels and storage facilities, which would require significant investment.
As their bank was unable to help, Nick reapproached SWIG Finance for further support, and a new loan backed by the British Business Bank’s Recovery Loan Scheme was approved.
Nick was assigned to Business Manager Rachael Taylor, who helped him prepare a cash flow forecast which considered a range of scenarios which could impact the future of the business.
Nick says that the craft beer market is a friendly but competitive one, and there are many complexities to consider when it comes to growth. For example, craft beer has a limited shelf life which makes storage, alongside increasing sales volumes, critical elements for consideration.
Steel Brew currently employs 10 people and they are looking to triple their headcount over the next 3 years.
Of the funding, Nick said “In the craft beer industry, it is very difficult to grow without working capital. This funding means that as we grow, we can work to improve our operational process as a whole, rather than working on specific components, which often results in a disjointed process. We chose to work with SWIG Finance because we knew that they would take the time to understand where our business is now and where we want it to be. Our business manager, Rachael, was so personal and helpful, we were grateful for her assistance throughout the process”.
SWIG’s Business Manager, Rachael Taylor, commented “We were delighted to support Nick in 2019 and we were really pleased that he came back to us for further funding. Nick and the Steel Brew Co team have worked tirelessly to ensure that the brand continued to grow, even in the harshest business environment, and that is a true testament to their dedication to the business.”
SWIG Finance was established more than 30 years ago to support businesses who are unable to secure funding from mainstream lenders. By empowering underserved businesses in the region to overcome their financial barriers, SWIG Finance is working to create a balanced financial eco-system.
About SWIG Finance
SWIG Finance is the South West’s leading Community Development Financial Institution. We are passionate about bringing social and economic benefits to people and places in the South West. We do this by providing support and finance to Start Ups and growing SMEs that can create and secure employment opportunities.
As the South West’s leading delivery partner for Start Up Loans UK, we can provide Start Up Loans from £500 – £25,000. For more information visit https://www.swigfinance.co.uk/start-up-loans/
We also have business loans from £25,001 to £250,000 available to South West SMEs who cannot access sufficient funding from their bank https://www.swigfinance.co.uk/business-loans/
If you would like an informal discussion about your funding requirements, please get in touch with our friendly and professional team: [email protected] / 01872 227 930.
Legal Notice: The Recovery Loan Scheme is managed by the British Business Bank on behalf of, and with the financial backing of, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy. British Business Bank plc is a development bank wholly owned by HM Government. It is not authorised or regulated by the PRA or the FCA. Visit http://www.british-businessbank.co.uk/recovery-loan-scheme