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More premium branding for WBB craft beers

West Berkshire Brewery (WBB), the brewer led by international brewing and pub entrepreneur David Bruce, has unveiled a new brand image and bottle design for its range of British bitters, pale ales and stouts.

The move follows a seismic year, which has seen the company welcome new investors amid continued fast growth.  The overhaul was motivated by the desire to give WBB’s range of craft products a more premium image that better reflected the quality of its award-winning ales – and its standing with pub goers and beer aficionados.

Bruce, chairman, says: “The new branding reflects the premium quality of our beer and is helping us to raise our profile in the competitive craft beer market. We wanted to ensure the new look is distinctive with strong visual impact – each beer brand has a unique style, whilst retaining cohesion across the range and also the company’s strong heritage.”

Since May, WBB has worked closely with leading London design consultancy, Colt, and also engaged Chris Mitchell of Epic Icons (who created the new HP Sauce logo) to develop the look of the bottled beer range and pumpclips. WBB’s original Gobbin’ Quaffer logo has been adapted by placing the character into a rural scene, generating a more contemporary appearance.

Vicky Mills, WBB’s newly-appointed marketing director, says: “We are absolutely delighted with the new image.  It has driven further increases in sales across pub groups and off-trade retailers, as well as opening up opportunities for export. Given that getting our beers into more people’s hands – and driving trial – was the key motivation, these results are testament to Colt’s fantastic work on this project.” 

In addition to the new look, the initiative saw WBB move away from the basic wrap label for its bottles, to embrace a classic front, back and neck label. 

The classic bitter Good Old Boy (4% ABV) is among the newly-designed range, which also includes strong bitter Dr Hexter’s Healer (5% ABV), a Great British Beer Festival winner, and Mr Swift’s Pale Ale (4% ABV).

New brewery investment

WBB has also announced that it is raising £4m through a tax-efficient Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) to build a new brewery, to meet growing demand for its beers beyond its Thames Valley heartland.

The larger brewing facility will be replete with visitor centre, café and a brewery shop, as well as state-of-the-art bottling, kegging and canning lines.  The firm will also purchase its first freehold pub to serve as a showcase for its beers.

The plan follows a period of strong sales growth for the company and comes amid the appointment of two industry heavyweights to the WBB board – Bruce’s partner from both the city and capital pub companies, Clive Watson, and former Fuller’s national account controller, Simon Robertson-Macleod.

Based on its current increasing growth in sales – with like-for-likes up 17% in the six months to September 2014, and growth of approximately 20% each year since 2000 – WBB is expected to outgrow its current brewery within two years.

In addition to the new site, WBB aims to use the new funds to purchase a freehold pub in a nearby urban location.  The new money will also be used for working capital as the company seeks to strengthen its sales and marketing teams.

The EIS succeeds last year’s fundraising venture, when WBB raised £1.23m through offering family, friends and beer aficionados the opportunity to become shareholders.

1 December 2014 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor