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The 6 fastest-growing alcohol businesses in the UK

Brewers Beavertown and Brewdog, pub group Mission Mars and gin distillery Warner Edwards have all been named as the UK’s fastest-growing businesses of the past three years.

The Sunday Times released its annual Fast Track 100 ranking this week.

The league table ranks Britain’s 100 private companies with the fastest-growing sales over their latest three years.

We’ve listed the six drinks-focused companies, from distillers to bar groups, that made it into this year’s ranking, and how they got there.

From pink gin to hyper-local brewing, these are the businesses making headlines right now.

6. Brewdog (real position = 71st)

(Photo: Brewdog)

This is the 7th consecutive year that Brewdog has made it into the Fast Track 100 ranking, although it has since slipped in the ranking (the brewer were in the top 10 in 2016). Launched by co-founders James Watt and Martin Dickie in 2007, it has opened nearly 60 bars in locations as far afield as Brazil and Japan.

Despite facing backlashes from a series of controversial publicity stunts over the past three years, the company has seen record sales growth and expanded its offering to not only include global bars, but also international breweries and even a craft beer-themed hotel. The company told its shareholders in April that it even plans to float on the New York Stock Exchange by 2020.

The judges noted the now-global business was valued at £1 billion in April 2017.

5. Beavertown (real position = 35th)

Beavertown gained a high profile listing at Tottenham Hotspurs’ stadium thanks to its Heineken backing earlier this year. (Photo: Beavertown)

Beavertown founder Logan Plant has had a very busy year. Beer giant Heineken bought a 49% stake in the business for £40 million in June this year, after months of speculation in the beer world.

The deal caused uproar within the vocal craft beer industry just months before Beavertown was due to host its annual festival BeaverX, and a number of independent breweries ultimately chose to withdraw from the event. Some also pledged to stop selling Beavertwon products at their own venues, saying that intervention by a large global beer manufacturer such as Heineken would pose a threat to independent businesses in the sector.

Nevertheless, the sale meant that Beavertown was able to secure lucrative projects, including a new state-of-the-art brewery in North London and a brewpub at Tottenham Hotspurs’ new football stadium.

While the Heineken investment is impressive, the judges were impressed that the brewer has become the “official craft beer supplier for Tottenham Hotspurs”, which signals a landmark change in the type of beer consumers opt for at sports events.

4. Urban Pubs & Bars (real position = 28th)

Urban Pubs & Bars ‘ owns 14 sites across London including the Wheatsheaf in Tooting Bec. (Photo: Urban Pubs & Bars)

Urban Pubs and bars owns 14 sites across London, but have yet to branch out to the rest of the UK. Why? Founders Malcolm Heap and Nick Pring told the Sunday Times they won’t add another bar, pub or restaurant to the portfolio unless they can cycle there.

The judges noted that the group recently sold its original venture Realpubs to Greene King for a cool £53 million.

3. Brewhouse & Kitchen (real position = 19th)

Founded in 2012, each Brewhouse & Kitchen venue has an on-site microbrewery fermenting locally themed beers for its young and metropolitan customer base. The business was inspired by the US microbrewery scene and boosted by early funds from the Enterprise Investment Scheme and Puma VCT, according to the Sunday Times.

Kris Gumbrell, co-founder of Brewhouse & Kitchen, is an increasingly vocal member of the craft beer industry, taking up a key speaking role in Cask Marque’s annual Cask Report launch earlier this year. The pub boss highlighted said that equality is a crucial element to his business, noting that 48% of the group’s customers are women.

“In terms of a struggling industry, this growth is quite exceptional,” Gumbrell told the drinks business ,”and our annual sales have risen over 103%.”

“It is so rewarding to see this, as a fast-growing independent business, myself and the rest of the team are thrilled to be ending 2018 on such a high and are looking forward to 2019 to see what this brings.”

2. Warner Edwards (real position = 6th)

Warner Edwards in Northamptonshire currently has six flavours of small-batch, handcrafted gin in its portfolio, including honey infused, rhubarb and elderflower. Founded in 2012 and led by husband and wife team Tom Warner and Tina Warner- Keogh, the company has seen success on the back of the craft gin boom, and has secured high profile partnerships with other fast-growing businesses in the industry such as Fever Tree, which recommended a tonic pairing with one of the distillers’ products earlier this year.

Warner Edwards have stayed at the sharp end of innovation, and has ensured that its newest products chime with the growing consumer demand for drinks with health claims. One third of each bottle of its pink gin, launched this year, is made with natural rhubarb juice.

1. Mission Mars (real position = 5th)

Mission mars acquired pizza chain Rudy’s last April (Photo: Mission Mars)

Founded by Roy Ellis, Neil Macleod, Joel Wilkinson, and Adelaide Winter just three years ago, Manchester-based Mission Mars operates 11 venues across the northwest of England, including Manchester’s Bavarian-themed restaurant and beer cellar Albert’s Schloss.

The judges said Mission Mars “raised £10.2m from BGF in July to fund the expansion of its Rudy’s and Schloss hospitality brands,” helping it into one of the top spots.

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