Saturday 22 October 2016

Largest craft brewer plans new brewhouse

Published 09/08/2015 | 02:30

Seamus O'Hara of the Carlow Brewing Company
Seamus O'Hara of the Carlow Brewing Company

Carlow Brewing Company, the largest Irish craft brewer by production capacity and the business behind O'Hara's beer, plans to raise money for a new brewhouse that will help drive exports.

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The move comes almost straight off the back of a €1.5m investment the company received in April, which enabled it to expand its workforce.

Managing director Seamus O'Hara said plans were not clearly mapped out yet, but that the company is "looking at doing something early next year". He said the project would probably be financed by a combination of debt and equity.

"It's a big project for us...the key thing will be getting a new brewhouse, which is kind of the core of your brewery," O'Hara told the Sunday Independent.

"We're just starting to work on it now... I can't really put a number on it but we will be adding jobs on the back of it.

"It's been going well. The domestic market here for craft beer has been growing strongly, plus our export side has going very well. There's a lot of interest internationally in Irish craft beer as well, and we feel now that we need to respond to that by adding more capacity so we can kind of keep up with it.

"A lot of it is about growing the countries we're in, we're in about 25 countries some to a greater extent than others. We're more proactive in some, more passive in others but we are exporting to 25 countries. The key ones would be places like the US, Canada, and then France, Italy, Sweden - they'd be the top tier.

Big brewing companies like Guinness owner Diageo have recently launched craft products to try and capture a slice of the growing sector. O'Hara said the competition is not necessarily a bad thing for his business.

"Probably their activity is helping to grow the market for speciality beer by bringing people into it, on the other side it's aggressive competition so it kind of balances out.

"To me it's not all bad. It's business, it's competitive out there, from import craft - it's a competitive sector.

"We just try to focus on what we're doing, do it as well as we can and get on with it."

A report measuring the economic impact of the craft beer industry compiled by the Independent Craft Brewers of Ireland is due to be published in the coming weeks.

Last year's report said microbrewery production was expected to grow by 45pc in 2014 as a whole.

A separate report published on Friday by the Irish Brewers Association (IBA) said that direct employment in the Irish beer industry has risen by 8pc, "due to the ongoing investment by the sector in Ireland and new product development."

IBA head Jonathan McDade said that the craft beer sector "continues to be a success story, making up an estimated 1.2pc of the market, with 40pc of microbreweries exporting."

"Irish beer industry exports are worth €228m and the industry supports thousands of jobs in the development process of beer," the Association said.

"While production of beer in Ireland for export fell slightly between 2013 and 2014 due to the international economic environment, the beer industry remains a major success story."

Sunday Indo Business

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