Speaking to The Morning Advertiser (MA), Jones sought to reassure customers and fans, after it was revealed redevelopment plans could force the brewery to leave its current site in 2019.
Jones stressed the earliest the Manchester brewery could have to relocate was August 2019, and insisted he was preparing for a range of scenarios, including the possibility of triggering an existing break term in the current lease.
“Our lease is constructed with a mutual break term available to either landlord or tenant until 6 August 2019,” he said. “That break cannot occur until then, but there is a six-month notice built into it. Obviously six months' notice would leave us homeless, so I have to start working on the possibility of that break being acted on by the landlord on 6 February 2019.”
Move needed in next five years
“Of course, we also have the right to enact that break, and we can decide not to hang on after the break,” he continued. “Once that period has passed, after August 2019, the landlord can then serve us with a 12-month notice at any point. The decision I have to make as soon as possible next year is how do I safeguard the future of the company? What position just allows us to get on and just think about making goddamned beer?”
Jones admitted the brewery would need to move “at some point in the next five years” and suggested he was erring towards moving before the break in its lease, after which the brewery could be evicted with just 12 months' notice.
“Looking at that looming worry that the landlord is then able to move us out with 12 months notice, I don't know how the team would cope,” he said. “It took us 18 months from beginning to look at sites to getting in here, and then a further few months to get into operations.
“It is no exaggeration to suggest that a 12-month notice period would be extremely stressful and maybe even impossible to tolerate. Therefore, I have got to look at our option of breaking in 2019 as seriously as I can. That is the only certain date for us in the next five years, and the only point at which I can maintain control is to work on the assumption that is when we move out.”
Brewery not for sale
On the subject of how the brewery would seek to fund a move to a new site, Jones said he was open to the idea of crowdfunding, but categorically denied he would look to sell the business.
“As any businessman of good conscience would do, I'd have to sit down and look at all the options available, except selling the brewery,” he said. “Even though I do get approached by investors, that is absolutely not an option we would take. Therefore, we would only be looking at asset financing, loans and crowdfunding to bridge what would be a quite substantial gap in funding requirements.”
Jones also added he had no plans to move the brewery to a more rural location. “I would hate to move out of the city centre,” he said. “We have done everything we can to support the scene around us and I'd hate to lose the ease of reach and ease of access that our customers currently enjoy to our brewery by moving some way out of town.”