Flexible finance and a strong relationship keeps future success brewing
Trading since 1993, Peterborough-based Oakham Ales has always had a flair for innovation. It was amongst the first UK brewers to specialise in the use of hops from the USA and the New World, pioneering the ‘golden’ cask ales which are now brewed by hundreds of breweries across the country.
In 2009, Oakham became the first UK brewery to use the ‘Citra’ hop – famous for its citrus aroma and taste - in a commercial brew. The beer, named ‘Citra’, has since become the company’s best-selling beer, both on draught and in a bottle.
According to Adrian Posnett, managing director of Oakham Ales, “Whilst many other brewers are now using the Citra hop, it’s ‘Oakham Citra’ that drinkers benchmark against when drinking single hopped Citra beers. We take great pride in the quality of our products and that will always be the case.
Pandemic hits expansion project
Supplying its range of beers to pubs and bars on a national basis, Oakham developed ambitious expansion plans which would see it doubling the capacity of its brewing plant. However, while it was in the process of doing this, the Covid-19 pandemic struck, bringing the pub and hospitality industry to a virtual standstill.
Inevitably, the company needed to put its expansion work on hold. But being part way through the project, it had already begun bulking up its plant and machinery infrastructure.
Flexible financing support
The double hit of these increased outgoings along with reduced sales due to the pandemic created significant financial challenges for the business and Adrian emphasises the importance of the strong relationship that Oakham already had in place with Aldermore:
“The combination of circumstances put huge pressure on our resources,” he said. “But Aldermore were extremely supportive in helping us through the period. We’ve had financial support from the bank across a number of funding products.”
This support was invaluable to Oakham Ales during the height of the pandemic – and it’s continued to be essential given the new pressures that have recently emerged: rising costs from suppliers for raw ingredients as well as the significant and well-documented increases in energy and fuel prices.
It remains a challenging environment and as the emergence of the Omicron variant has shown, the path back to ‘normality’ is still very uncertain. This means that having flexible financial support is as crucial as ever.
Strong relationship for the long-term
“We’ve a great relationship with Aldermore, in particular with our relationship manager Cath McGorrigan. Cath takes the time to understand our business and is always happy to help us when needed, rather than to offer us an umbrella when it stops raining!” Adrian commented. “It’s the speed of response and the understanding of our market which stands out. We always feel that we’re dealing with real people who listen rather than just ticking boxes.”
Adrian hopes that Oakham can come through the pandemic “with as few bruises as possible” and then focus on restarting its expansion project. He’s confident that Aldermore is the right lender to help the business do this.
Cath McGorrigan, relationship manager at Aldermore, said: “We’ve been delighted to support Oakham Ales through the challenging circumstances of recent times. We could see clearly that Oakham is a good business with strong, high quality products and a wide client base. That’s why we’ve been happy to agree flexible financing facilities that can help Oakham manage the short-term pressures and build again for the future.”
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