Brightside Brewery is an independent family-run micro-brewery based in Radcliffe that supplies the hospitality trade across the northwest. But with the sector closing under lockdown, the business saw wholesale sales plummet, and soon realised they needed a new income stream if they were still to be trading when restrictions were lifted. The company saw diversifying into retail as the answer.
At the start of lockdown, Brightside received a call from the GC Business Growth Hub as part of its Here for Business Covid Response campaign. It proved to be the start of a fruitful relationship, as the Hub supported Brightside’s move into retail, with the opening of a brewery shop, followed by a move taking sales online, too.
Initially the Hub completed a Business Model Canvas with Carley to map out where the revenue streams would come from and what actions they needed to take to make this happen, this was crucial as they had not previously had to incorporate any retail into this.
Director Carley Friedrich worked closely with her Account Manager and specialist Business Growth Advisors to develop a new sales and marketing strategy.
“We knew retail was an untapped market for the business, but we had exclusively worked with trade clients, and didn’t have any experience in selling directly to the consumer. Being able to speak to an expert and draw on their knowledge was a fantastic help to the business.
“Our advisor didn’t implement the strategy for us, they coached me on how to effectively do this myself. This approach immediately increased my confidence and I knew that I could call upon the Hub’s support if I needed.”Director Carley Friedrich
During the process it became clear that Brightside’s website needed to be more retail driven so their Account Manager referred them to the Hub’s Digital Innovation team to provide technical expertise on eCommerce.
The Innovation team carried out a digital diagnosis of the business and established a blueprint to revamp its digital presence, switching from a portal aimed at just trade customers to a more consumer-friendly approach.
The team also helped to improve Brightside’s digital reach with advice on SEO and social media, as well as introducing ideas around digital workflow that have made it easier to manage online sales. As well as one-to-one support, Carley attended a series of Digital Springboard masterclasses.
Meanwhile, their Account Manager, helped the business to secure a £10,000 Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) from Bury council, as well as a Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Grant of £3,000. This was used to improve customer experience on the website, as well as optimising its compatibility with other devices, such as mobile phones.
The package of support, together with the company’s sheer determination, has seen them take on a new member of staff specifically to manage the brewery shop, with retail now an established and sustainable part of their long-term business strategy.
Innovation has also played a role in the business’ survival, with the brewery launching new gluten free beers in 2020.
“Digital marketing is now fully embedded in the business, and we’ve definitely established an understanding of how to communicate with different target markets across different channels,” says Carley. “It has also helped to increase brand awareness.
“Importantly we have also ensured that our wholesale customers have been kept up to date, and together with our new consumer offering, we’re leaving lockdown in a much stronger position than we could have hoped for at the start of the pandemic.”
In the long-term, income from the website and shop will create more job opportunities while also providing some security in the event of the future lockdowns.
“COVID-19 cost our business over £450,000 in lost turnover. Whilst it’s saddening to see the devastating effect the pandemic has had on our business financially, we’re proud of what we’ve managed to claw back in such a short time, given that we had never traded in the retail market before.”
With Brightside’s immediate future secured, Carley is now working with the Hub’s Skills for Growth team to upskill the workforce.