The brewery, founded by childhood friends Paul Anspach and Jack Hobday in 2014, is planning to follow in the footsteps of The Five Points Brewing Co, Left Handed Giant and Northern Monk by selling between 10% and 20% of the business via Crowdcube next month.
If the brewery successfully reaches its initial target of at least £400,000, the money will be used to upscale and move production to a new facility within the M25 with an increased capacity of around 5,000hl a year.
Lewisham, Deptford and Croydon, as well as a new Boxpark near London City Airport, are being considered as possible locations for the brewery site, while the taproom and barrel ageing programme will remain based at Anspach & Hobday’s Bermondsey site.
Bermondsey links retained
Speaking about the decision to move production out of Bermondsey, co-founder Jack Hobday said: “The primary aim is expansion. By moving the kit out to a new production site we will have a much greater opportunity for retail here in Bermondsey and more of a chance to create a dedicated taproom experience for people.
“Bermondsey is such a fantastic location for us and if we can keep an element of production here then hopefully people will see we are still committed to this area. Unfortunately, more arches in this space would be much harder to justify in terms of the rent.”
The brewery will also be investing in a new packaging line, which will enable it to move into cans. It has previously packaged into bottles by hand. Other ‘stretch’ targets (if the brewery exceeds its £400,000 target) include new lagering tanks, a lab for quality control and wild yeast experiments, a second retail space and an Anspach & Hobday beer bus for pop-up events.
Investors will be able to purchase the same types of shares in the brewery that are owned by the two co-founders, while there will also be a number of rewards in place, including a one-off beer with investors' names printed on the label, exclusive merchandise and discounts, and a charity brewday.
Our view - Joining the crowd
Anspach & Hobday becomes the latest brewery to turn to its fanbase to try to raise the required capital to take the business forward. This move, which could see the brewery sell up to a fifth of the company in return for investment, will clearly have been influenced by the recent successful campaigns of Five Points, Left Handed Giant and Northern Monk.
These small businesses – all of whom raised over £1m - have proved that crowdfunding is more than a gimmick and can be a very sensible way to grow while retaining majority control over the future direction of the company.
Anspach & Hobday is a little smaller than other breweries which have turned to crowdfunding in recent months, but it does have previous success at raising capital, having sourced the initial investment to start the business via KickStarter in 2013. The two childhood friends clearly believe they have a strong enough pitch and a community willing to back them to help further the business.
The decision to move production out of Bermondsey is clearly based on the growing cost of renting industrial space within the centre of London. The continual rising rents on railway arches should be a cause for concern within the brewing industry. The more gentrified and retail-focused these areas become, the more likely property owners will seek to squeeze extra revenue out of producers basing themselves there.
Finally, it’s refreshingly honest to hear that Anspach & Hobday is determined to see its investors receive a return for their backing, be that in the form of dividends from profits, or a larger pay-off if the brewery is sold in the future. Too often businesses that crowdfund try to convince the public to invest on the basis of ‘owning a part of the business’, while offering only limited physical return on investment.
Future sale not ruled out
Hobday confirmed that the brewery would seek to provide investors with a return on their investment in the form of dividends, but stressed that he and co-founder Paul Anspach were not averse to the idea of selling the brewery in the future.
“The whole purpose is to return the investment via profits and, eventually, in dividends,” he said. “That is the primary aim. My sincere hope is that we will create a nice, profitable network of retail spaces, have some excellent wholesale and provide a nice return as a dividend.
“But if that fails and it is in the interests of our shareholders, employees and customers, then we would look at a sale. Given the current climate I think it is really important we have a clear message on that.
“Our philosophy is very much that it is totally up to anyone who has worked hard to build their own company to sell it if they wish, but if you sell out entirely to one of the bigger guys you have to accept your customers are going to vote with their feet and with their wallets.”
Further retail sites sought
Anspach & Hobday has also produced a new beer, The Crowdfunder, a 3.8% Rye Pale Ale that will be launched across the UK and overseas, to promote the campaign.
Hobday added the brewery was open to the idea of opening further sites in London or elsewhere in the UK, and stated his belief that further retail sites would be key to the brewery’s future growth.
“If, after this initial stage, we have got a new site and our current site running as a taproom, then we will be in a good position to look at maybe the first A&H pub,” he said. “If you're going to sell up to 500,000hl of beer, the best way to generate meaningful profits is not just from the wholesale business, it is through retailing.
“Our business has always been about the pursuit of a better beer experience. Once you start touring the world and looking at places like Germany and America, you realise it comes down to everything from the service you receive at the bar, to the glassware and the beer quality itself. If you can curate the whole thing in your own space, you've got the chance to do something even more special.”
Interested parties can register interest in Anspach & Hobday’s campaign by visiting the brewery’s website.