Watneys, once the UK’s biggest selling beer, famous for its Red Barrel brand, is making a comeback, reinvented for the modern beer market.

Since 2015, Watneys Beer Company has enjoyed success in growing its craft beer business (up 85% year on year in 2018), all without owning a brewery, lorry or a barrel.

The company is now looking for equity crowdfunding on Seedrs to expand its portfolio of strong regional craft beer brands, and to build Watneys into a national brand again.

In a competitive craft beer market, with over 15% growth but more than 2,000 brewers in the UK, Watneys is taking a different approach to building its business by partnering with award-winning craft brewers to make its beers, instead of investing in premises. This allows it to take advantage of wasted capacity in current breweries (which up to 45% of UK breweries hold), while minimising overheads and capital requirements.

Re-inventing a heritage brand

Nick Whitehurst, director of Watneys Beer Company, said: “The nostalgia and history of Watneys give us provenance, but what we’ve done is taken this heritage and re-invented the brand to appeal to a whole new generation of drinkers. Now we’re modern, relevant and have a business model to make Watneys a key brand in the craft beer market.”

Brewed in London since 1837, Watneys is still etched into the architecture of pubs around the country and in the hearts of many. The brand disappeared in the 1980s.

The new company is inviting investors to help to expand the company’s sales and marketing resources, to break into additional markets like off-trade and export. It is also planning to relaunch other cherished heritage beer brands, such as Federation, in Newcastle, and Matthew Brown, from Lancashire.

Watneys Beer Company is already backed by a group of industry veterans and more than 30 angel investors, including East Midlands Business Angels. They’re crowd raising investment on Seedrs, seeking £400,000.

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