Cains sells Liverpool link in beer export drive

By Graham Holter

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Beer

Cains sells Liverpool link in beer export drive
Cains Brewery has shaken off a recent survival warning from auditors to increase sales and employ 10 new staff following a decision to focus more heavily on exports.

The Liverpool-based brewer now runs 24-hour shifts, six days a week, to cope with rising demand from key export markets including the US, Denmark, China and Ireland. It expects to sign distribution agreements with importers in India and Australia soon.

Only last December the firm’s auditor warned that Cains faced material uncertainty​ over its finances that threatened its survival. Despite a 2010 turnover of £24.6m the business lost £896,000 and amassed net liabilities of £2.765m.

Music, football, beer

Sudarghara Dusanj (who owns the business with brother Ajmail, pictured) told FoodManufacture.co.uk that the company was on target to hit £40m turnover in the current financial year, up from £24.6m in the year to September 30 2010.

Dusanj said that export sales would form a single-digit percentage of that figure, but that the company was optimistic of significant growth in overseas sales.

“We’re exporting Export Lager, Bitter and Mild to the States, which is our most mature market. Brands like Newcastle Brown have done very well in the US and that helps," ​he said.

“We’re not exporting to compensate for any problems in the UK market. It’s been looked at because of the popularity of Liverpool as a world city. People associate it with The Beatles and football as well, Liverpool FC has a huge fan base in Asia.”

The iconic Toxteth brewery, established in 1850, employs around 80 people, and 10 new jobs have been created in brewing and packaging roles as a result of the recent export surge.

Dusanj said the plant could handle 1m hectolitres of beer a year and is still only operating at 50% capacity.“We’re also doing some contract brewing and packaging,”​ he said. “That side of the business has been growing and is probably back to where it was prior to administration ​[in 2008].

Authentic lagers

Cains operates eight pubs, and sells an estimated 55% of its volumes in supermarkets and off-licences. Dusanj said the firm would consider opening more pubs “in the right locations in and around Merseyside”​ but added that Cain’s focus was on brand building.

Cains has recently positioned itself as a producer of authentic lagers, with a range including an 8% abv continental-style bock, but also continues to brew traditional British ales and seasonal specialities.

The brothers originally acquired the business in 2002 for £6.4m, but it entered administration in 2008 with debts of around £35m. The company was bought back by the duo – who retained ownership of the freehold and buildings – the same year.

Related topics: Drinks

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