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Brick Brewery founder warns of ‘incredible challenges’ to craft beer sector

Private equity firm Breal Group has completed the purchase of another brewery, announcing it has purchased Peckham-based Brick Brewery, in a statement which highlighted the challenges to the craft beer sector.

The news, which follows Breal’s acquisition of Black Sheep Brewery last month, has seen Brick Brewery bought out of administration by a new company, dubbed Brick B, but which is also owned by the private equity firm.

In a statement that also announced it would continue to trade as Brick Brewery, The Breal Group said it had bought all the assets out of administration in a deal on 2 June.

Breal said it had “secure(d) the business for the long-term, and this has saved the jobs, and futures of the people that work there and ensured that the unique flavours of Brick Brewery beers are not lost or forgotten”.

It also said that the two founders of the company, husband and wife Ian and Sally Stewart, would remain at the brewery and “will continue to ensure that the company’s strong ethos and values are preserved, in both the flavours of Brick products, and as importantly, our community spirit”.

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The firm was also keen to stress the troubles in the brewing sector at present, following the pandemic and the rising costs of production.

Ian Stewart highlighted how 45 breweries had entered insolvency in the UK in the past year, which was a three-fold increase on the previous year, but is also less than other figures have suggested.

Stewart said: “It will be no surprise to anyone that, the cost-of-living crisis has squeezed household disposable income. Small breweries are not immune from the effects of families being forced to tighten their belts, far from it, but for us at Brick, our property costs have more than doubled in the last 6 years, these are quite incredible conditions to overcome.”

Perfect storm

He went on to explain how the Ukrainian conflict “hot on the heels of Covid” had further exacerbated an “already perfect storm” within the hospitality sector and that it “may not recover to pre-covid levels for decades”.

Stewart said: “I’m sorry to say that, unless the market improves significantly or further support is made available, many more pubs and breweries will fail.

“With our new partners, and loyal, generous customers’ continued support, we are certain to have a positive future ahead of us. I would like to assure you that the beers that you all love will continue to be brewed with the same level of passion from our fantastic team at Brick Brewery.”

Stewart added that the brewery was “extremely fortunate” to have found a partner in The Breal Group and it had “saved us from certain closure” and “allows us to continue our journey”.

He said: “We were a family before and we’re a family still. We are passionate about our products, and we will continue to never compromise on quality and
innovation to continue to be the trusted brand you know and love. We celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, one that which seemed impossible only a short time ago. For the first time in a while, we look toward the future with optimism.”

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