Cheers for Arran as brewery saved in buy-out

From The Herald, by MARTIN WILLIAMS June 19 2008

Arran's award-winning brewery has been saved after being sold to a Glasgow-based business consultancy.

Arran Brewery, set up in Cladach, near Brodick, eight years ago by Richard and Elisabeth Roberts, has been in administration since May 8 and a closed sign had been placed on the shop door.

Yesterday, it was announced that Marketing Management Services International (MMSI) had bought the brewery for an undisclosed sum.

Mrs Roberts told The Herald that it meant there remained a future for the micro-brewery's award-winning and popular beers Arran Blonde, Arran Dark, Arran Sunset and Arran Ale.

MMSI, headed by Scottish marketing guru Gerald Michaluk, which provides marketing intelligence and provides support to start-up businesses, said it hoped that the brewery would be back in production as early as next week.

Mrs Roberts said was hopeful she would be kept on by MMSI in some capacity along with Mike Lunney, the master brewer and the accounts manager.

Once employing a staff of 11 and boasting a 1m annual turnover, the buy-out came too late to prevent redundancies. Eight of the staff, including Mr Roberts, the managing director, were made redundant on May 9.

But Mrs Roberts said yesterday she thought there would have to be further recruitment to get the brewery operating again and felt former staff could be re-employed.

"I don't know whether MMSI could be termed as business angels, but it is a term that springs to my mind.

"Judging from the brief discussions we have had, I think the brewery is destined for much greater things than we could have hoped for under the previous management.

"What is very important to the new company is to retain that island, romantic feel about the product and the brand that we have enjoyed in the last eight years without a doubt.

"We will have to employ more people. Three of us just won't cut it with all the beer we have to produce.

"We are hoping to re-recruit some of the people that were made redundant if they want to come back and join us. They would all bring a great deal of expertise and knowledge with them and would be a great asset to the company.

Administrators PricewaterhouseCoopers had previously stated that the brewery had been hit with rising bottling, transport and distribution costs and needed more capital to take it to the next level.

Graham Martin, joint administrator and partner with PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in Glasgow, said: "This is an excellent result for the brewery and for the Isle of Arran, and reflects the award-winning nature of the product."

Mr Michaluk said: "I am looking forward to seeing the brand grow and develop and feel with such a good team on the island, the excellent quality of the product and the good will of all those that previously supported the brand we can make a real success here."

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