Less than a week after launching a Crowdfunder bid to raise £100,000 to stay in business, Stroud Brewery has already raised nearly £60,000 towards that target.
Managing director Greg Pilley admits to being thrilled by the rapid take-up of the campaign, which allows supports to ‘pay it forward’ with various offers, which range from £1 to £800.
For a business which in recent times hit a turnover of £1.6 million and employs 25 staff, the £100,000 target represents just one month’s turnover, but according to Mr Pilley’s calculations will help it cover running fixed costs through to April 2021.
‘When you see the response from people and the support we have had so far, it gives you confidence that we have a good, solid base to our business,’ he said.
‘And with that support, it makes us believe that when the good times return, we will be able to move forward – and, in the meantime, we will work hard to grow nationally as well.’
The first lockdown immediately removed 70 per cent of Stroud Brewery’s trade.
And while Mr Pilley might sound relaxed and philosophical, like everyone dependent on the hospitality trade for survival, without a roadmap that includes detail on the future of the furlough scheme and business rates, £100,000 is a brilliant target – but only one step forward.
‘I fully expect there will be restrictions on hospitality till 2022,’ he said, meaning that the battle is likely to be ongoing for some time.
Part of the positive message the organic beer producer is pushing, as it works to position itself for a post-pandemic world, is its credentials as a Certified B Corporation – a business that balances purpose with profit.
As ‘vegan’ and ‘vegetarian’ went from a left-field idea to a commercial draw, Mr Pilley would love to believe the current climate will fast-forward public opinion towards embracing more environmentally-friendly food production practices.
Stroud Brewery is already involved in scientific research aiming to accelerate the prospects for organic farming, and on the commercial and marketing front there are headline deals like an organic beer for TV celebrity Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage.
But for right now, all hope is on the Crowdfunder campaign, as it seeks to make it through 2021.
By Andrew Merrell