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North Brewing Co secures funding to grow globally

North Brewing Co has secured £375,000 in funding from Bibby Financial Services (BFS) to expand its business internationally.

The Leeds-based brewery, owned and run by John Gyngell and Christian Townsley, who originally co-founded North Bar – often cited to be Britain’s first craft beer venue – will begin North’s global expansion across the US and East Asia.

Speaking exclusively to the drinks business, North Brewing Co co-founder John Gyngell said: “The support gives us the breathing space to concentrate on what we’re best at, plan ahead for business growth over the next few years and have more time to enjoy the day job, which we absolutely love.”

The move, which uses the independent invoice financier BFS, is known as a Confidential Invoicing Discounting (CID) package deal, and is set to support North’s cash flow and enable Gyngell and Townsley to focus on future growth, helping them to get the brewery’s most-revered beers, like its popular sour beers and English brews to craft beer fans in America as well as beer enthusiasts across Asia.

In a one-to-one interview, Gyngell told db: “Within the next three months we’re launching in the USA, with a focus on our Triple Fruited Gose (TFG) range and our take on traditional English Bitters. Together with further expansion into East Asia means we can share our passion for crafting exceptional brews with a whole new community of beer enthusiasts.”

The business, which started its life as a small craft and world beer bar on New Briggate high street and was founded in 1997 by Gyngell and Townsley has since flourished with the pair opening several more bars over the years before launching North Brewing Co in 2015.

North, which now operates 10 venues across Yorkshire, Birmingham and Manchester and produces around 20 thousand hectolitres of beer every year, has been heralded a success story which is largely down to the pair’s passion for great beer leading them to create a business where the quality of the beer itself, the integrity of people who work alongside them as well as a healthy dose of passion and teamwork has always taken precedence over their decision-making.

As part of the funding, the expansion plan for North Brewing Co will also help Gyngell and Townsley to expand the bars further afield too. Gyngell told db: “We’re looking to bring our North Taproom concept to cities around the UK, following on from the recent successful openings in Birmingham and Manchester” and hinted “we’ve also had interest from partners across Europe and further afield, on which we’ll hopefully have some news in the Autumn”.

To facilitate the transaction, the Gyngell and Townsley were introduced to BFS’s commercial team by Conor Smyth at independent commercial finance brokerage TFS Finance which specialises within the SME market.

BFS’s team, led by Ian Hayes, has structured the CID funding and, according to the brokers, was selected as the ideal team due to its “speed, agility and understanding” of North’s business needs.

Gyngell, who made it known he wanted to recognise all of the people who have helped make this next move possible, stated how he and Townsley are “so proud of where our business is today” and went on to declare how that is “in large part thanks to our great staff and a lot of love from our customers and community”. However, he admitted that, “as a business owner, cashflow is a daily concern, especially over the past 12 months” and indicated that it has been “a really tough year for the brewing industry, due to a combination of challenges, such as the rising cost of grain, energy, shipping, and the impact of Brexit on international business operations” all of which have rocked the beer and hospitality industry in Britain.

Gyngell went on to add his gratitude towards so many people’s “commitment” to North and told db that “in order to grow the business, we need to be able to focus on the future, rather than just respond to the day-to-day” and added: “We really appreciated BFS’s commitment to understanding our business, and quickly coming back to us with a solution” and highlighted that the funding gives him and his team “breathing space to concentrate on what we’re best at”.

North has been growing its business and operations over the past few years and, in 2020, the business signed a lease for a larger, 21,000 sq ft former Victorian Tannery in Springwell, Leeds, which was converted into a modern brewery, taproom and workspace during the pandemic – and now serves as the business’s HQ.

The mid-sized brewery, which has already seen its beers received with open arms in markets such as Japan, China and Australia has also been supported by, within the past year, Gyngell and Townsley opening their first two bars outside of Yorkshire, in Birmingham and Manchester as well as the launch of the beer festival, Springwell Sessions at its brewery site – with the second iteration due to take place at the end of April 2023.

Conor Smyth, senior funding partner at TFS Finance, explained: “North Brewing Co has seen huge success over the past 26 years in its local bars and brewing operations, and is also seeing growing national and international demand. This has made managing cashflow a much bigger task, especially considering the challenging economic landscape. The BFS team were great partners to work with, as they demonstrated their ability to tap into the business’s needs and deliver a suitable funding line in just a couple of weeks.”

Ian Hayes, business development manager at BFS concluded: “BFS is in growth mode, and our partnership with North Brewing Co is a great example of us working hand-in-hand with our valued intermediary base and with our clients to unlock working capital for growth.”

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