In his most recent update to shareholders, Utopian’s Managing Director Richard Archer announced the appointment of Head Brewer Jeremy Swainson to the main board of Directors. Announcing the appointment Archer commented “Jeremy joined the business at the very start and throughout those 5 years he has made a massive contribution to the business and been a constant support to me. Jeremy’s brewing knowledge is outstanding, his work ethic first class and he provides inspirational leadership to the brewing team. That is what underpins the consistent, exceptional quality of our beer, but his talents extend past the brewing process. He has a keen interest and awareness of our industry and has a huge amount of value to add, right across the business. That’s why I was excited to invite him to join the board, and even more delighted when he accepted.” Swainson joins the board as Director of Brewing and Production alongside founding MD Archer and 3 long serving non-executives who collectively provide a wealth of industry experience spanning both small and large businesses.
Commenting on his appointment Swainson said “The past 5 years have been an incredible experience, helping to grow our team and developing our range of beers. It is a privilege to work for a brewery where beer quality and sustainability underpin everything we do, and I am thrilled to play a part in Utopians’ continued growth”.
Archer went on to provide a business update, along with some exciting developments of the brewery’s sustainability program.
On sustainability he reported that in August the team completed the installation of a Dalum CO₂ capture system which, together with earlier investments in Nitrogen generation, has now made the brewery completely self-sufficient in CO₂. Commenting on this major milestone he said “Until fairly recently, capture of CO₂ from fermentation, for re-use in production, was the domain of only the largest brewers. This Dalum unit makes it accessible to operations like ours and we think it’s a game changer. It is not simply the reduction in emissions. Our unit will also deliver considerable net savings on utility expenditure whilst giving us total insulation against any supply side risks like those seen in 2022. Great for the planet and good for the P&L too. A genuine win-win”
Utopian are totally committed to building a sustainable future and Archer also updated on the final commissioning of their biological waste water plant in recent weeks. This six-figure investment, that has taken over 18 months to complete, will ultimately process all of the brewery’s waste-water to final effluent standard. On this he said “Finally, after a somewhat tortuous journey, we are delighted that the bio waste-water plant is now on stream. Disposing of wastewater in an off grid rural site is a massive challenge, expensive, and a source of considerable CO₂ emissions, so removing all of those in one hit will provide very significant benefits both to the business and to the environment.” The combined impact of these two initiatives is forecast to be a reduction of 35 tonnes of CO2e.
On the business performance Archer reported that whilst its fiscal year 2022-23 (June to May) had, like for most breweries, been challenging he was pleased that revenues had still grown. On the current year, he provided a positive update for the first half with sales up over 20% on the same period last year. Alongside this strong revenue growth, he reported how production efficiencies and improved purchasing, had contributed to a solid EBITDA and Net Profit performance. On the results he commented “The sales team have done an excellent job delivering good growth on the back of difficult trading last year. This has been underpinned by some great work by the brew team to find efficiencies in production without any impact on the quality of the beer. In fact, all the awards we have won suggest the beer has got even better. We are encouraged by the positive EBITDA and Net Profit performance and the board remain cautiously optimistic for the full year.”
Archer concluded his update by sharing some plans for the business which included expansion of the sales team, increased brewing capacity and the possible development of tap rooms and other direct outlets. He said “Whilst we remain cautious on the general economic conditions, we are an ambitious business and we want to continue our growth. Our plans are very much about sticking to our core values of sustainably brewing great lagers, with all British ingredients. Continued organic growth will remain our key focus but we do also think the time may be right for some Utopian bars on the high street and so are now actively researching opportunities for that.”
ABOUT UTOPIAN BREWING
Utopian Brewing is a young independent brewery based on a farm site near Crediton Devon. Now employing a team of 12 the brewery was set up to produce a range of high quality accessible lagers using only British grown ingredients. The brewery now also produces a small range of traditional cask ales. In 2023 Utopian won the prestigious “World Best” in the Maibock category of the World Beer Awards alongside 3 other golds. They also won 1 platinum and 3 gold in the Food Drink Devon awards and 2 golds in the SIBA South West Beer Awards. Founded in 2019 the business has grown every year and in calendar year 2022 they produced over 6,500 Hectolitres ( around 1.1million pints). Their beers are now available nationally in both pubs, bars and retail outlets as well as from their on-line shop.
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