Black Sheep Brewery
Black Sheep serves up second successive year of profit and plans continued investment and expansion
August 27th 2019
Black Sheep Brewery plc has completed one of its most transformative business periods by delivering a second successive year of profits and increased turnover.
The Masham-based brewery has established a dedicated retail division and continued its investment programme in a state-of-the-art packaging facility, alongside developing its established and new beer and lager range.
For its financial year ending 31 March 2019, Black Sheep Brewery plc has:
- delivered increased turnover of £19.3m, up from £18.5m in 2018;
- achieved operating profit of £254k; the second year of operating profit in a row, following profits in 2018 of £260k;
- acquired and fully integrated York Brewery, its brand and four of its outlets in York and Leeds;
- acquired Leeds-based bar and restaurant Kith & Kin to expand the portfolio of pubs operated by its newly created retail division, Black Sheep Retail Ltd, to five; and
- continued to win a raft of industry awards and innovate its range of beers, with some 15 percent of its production coming from beers that hadn’t been brewed two years ago.
The development of its retail arm, coupled with developments in its leadership team, including the appointment of Simon Adams as Group Finance Director, who brings private equity and AIM-listed experience to the group, highlights the ambition of Black Sheep Brewery to develop and diversify to build a sustainable and profitable business.
Further investment is being made in the construction of a state-of-the-art packaging plant on its site at Fearby Road in Masham, with the Company having already invested £200k in capital equipment for the plant, in addition to receiving grant funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership. The facility will enable Black Sheep to bring its can, keg and bottle packaging operation in-house, which will not only bring a significant reduction in costs, but also increase flexibility to supply customers.
The Brewery’s reputation was also strengthened by its partnerships with major retailers, including securing listings for a number of its beers with supermarkets including Morrisons and Tesco. It also won a series of awards in the period in the National Independent Beer Awards and the World Beer Awards for both its new beers and also some of the established core range.
Andy Slee, Chairman of Black Sheep Brewery, said:
“Our diversification into pub ownership and to develop packaging capabilities to supplement our core brewing activity is proving to be a positive strategy. Brewing continues to be a challenging industry in which to operate, which is exemplified by the suffocating levels of beer duty we pay, accounting for 40 percent of our turnover. However, we remain agile and proactive through the development of new products and programmes of investment that will enable the brewery to continue to move forward.
“Working with our loyal shareholders and pursuing new routes to fundraising for the business, we are committed to the fast pace of change we are delivering at Black Sheep Brewery that will ensure we bolster our position as an iconic Yorkshire brand and innovative and creative brewer.”
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The Black Sheep Brewery is one of British brewing’s most famous stories and has grown from humble beginnings to become a multi-award-winning company, with its beers enjoyed around the world.
Black Sheep has grown to become one of Yorkshire’s most recognised brands, which was unveiled as the official beer of the Tour de Yorkshire and is the official brewery of Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC).
In the past 12 months, Black Sheep has won a number of prestigious awards, including:
- The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) National Independent Beer Awards 2018 – Glug M’Glug – Small Pack Gold Champion in the Porters, Stouts, Old Ales, Strong Milds & Strong Brown Ales category
The British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) Beer Champion 2017
World Beer Awards – Milk Stout – UK Winner
World Beer Awards – Pathmaker – Gold Award
World Beer Awards – Black Sheep Ale – Silver Award
World Beer Awards – Guzzler– Bronze Award
World Beer Awards – Pineapple Milkshake IPA - Bronze Award
Based in Masham, in the heart of North Yorkshire, Black Sheep brewed its first beer in 1992 after being built up by Paul Theakston, whose family had brewed in the area for six generations.
In a world of ever-increasing bland, mass-produced beer, Paul saw an opportunity to return to what his family had done best since 1827, making real beer in the time-honoured fashion.
An old maltings building, once part of Lightfoot's Brewery, became the Brewery’s home. This landmark building, which stands high over the banks of the Ure, had fallen in to disrepair as years of neglect as a semi-redundant grainstore had taken its toll. Paul assembled a small team around him to fight the rats and build a traditional country brewery.
The Visitor Centre, at the site of the iconic brewery, has grown to become an award-winning attraction for visitors to Yorkshire, with tens of thousands of people flocking to Masham each year.
In 2018, Black Sheep announced the purchase of York Brewery, which included the acquisition of four pubs in the business and key cask brands, including Guzzler and Yorkshire Terrier.
The outlets bought by Black Sheep, as part of the deal, are as follows:
Last Drop Inn, York
Mr Foley’s Tap House, Leeds
The Tap Room, York
The Three Legged Mare, York
The addition of York Brewery complements the strong, iconic Black Sheep brand and its existing award-winning beers and brands.
The Black Sheep name derived from Masham’s association with sheep, but ‘Sheep Brewery’ didn’t quite sound right, so with a little creativity from Paul’s wife, the Black Sheep Brewery was born - a name that sat well with the area, spoke volumes about the business’ maverick attitude to the multi-nationals seeking to dominate the brewing industry and captured the essence of the family struggle that led to its birth.
Black Sheep’s beers are full of character derived from the best possible brewing materials, plenty of time and patience in the brewing and its very special Yorkshire Square fermenters.
Black Sheep Best Bitter is now one of the best-selling cask session beers in the UK and many of its creative brews, over the course of its 25-year history, have collected numerous awards – ranging from Black Sheep’s traditional ales to its up and coming craft beers.
2017 marked the launch of Black Sheep Brewery’s first lager, 54 Degrees North, created in homage to its hometown of Masham, which sits on 54’ 13’ 24” N; 1’ 39’ 20” W longitude and latitude lines, as the company embarks on an adventurous new chapter in its distinguished history.
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