Shropshire brewery grows online sales through the Manufacturing Growth Programme | Manufacturing Growth Programme

Established in 1993, Shropshire based Hobsons Brewery & Company Ltd is an independent brewery that produces award winning regional ale available in casks and bottles. The business is dedicated in producing ale using the finest quality local ingredients teamed with sustainable technologies. They have earned national and regional awards for flavour, and ‘green’ accolades for innovation.

The business has set out to maintain a traditional business environment whilst growing and evolving with their market. A part of this evolution involves digitalising all their systems. The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic made it even more prevalent that changes were needed to futureproof the business.

Since they began in 1993, Hobsons has grown from a small microbrewery into one of the leading breweries in the region and one of the most sustainable in the UK.

Hobsons Brewery set out producing real ale in casks for public houses within a 50-mile radius of the brewery, as demand increased and the taste for Hobsons real ale spread. Hobsons became available in bottles from 2002. They now produce six cask beers and eight bottled beers, plus special limited edition brews. The business has 26 employees and has a predicted turnover of £2.6 million for 2021/2022.

The team at Hobsons are passionate about their craft and their dedication and their skill has earned the company many regional and national awards, including the CAMRA Beer of Britain in 2007 with Hobsons Champion Mild and Water Efficiency Winner at the Blue Marches Business Awards 2020. The success of the brewery and its many awards has been down to a strong culture of Hobsons supporting its region, its people and its resources.

Catherine Bray, Manufacturing Growth Manager for the Manufacturing Growth Programme, has supported the SME manufacturing business to access free support and grant funding toward the cost of a business improvement project.

Using MGP grant funding, a consultancy project was implemented to support Hobsons Brewery Ltd in the development of an effective digital sales solution to enhance their online business. The project included the design of a new ecommerce platform from which the company can showcase and sell their products, creating user journeys and interactions that enhance the buying experience, improve engagement with the end consumers and drive awareness of the Hobson’s brand. It will also help to drive foot traffic to offline sales at the taproom, through the promotion of special offers and events throughout the year.

A second project was also conducted which was an IT consultancy project to assist Hobsons Brewery Ltd to create a bespoke integration for their cloud-based inventory management system. This will help to improve the efficiency of digital sales for both B2B and B2C customers. The project will improve product synchronisation and product stock synchronisation as well as providing real-time data for order processing. Ultimately this will enable the business improve productivity, streamline collaboration and generate intelligence whilst significantly improving efficiencies.

The cloud-based inventory management system is expected to increase trade sales, with the launch of an online B2B portal. This portal will offer trade customers a quick ordering method that doesn’t require picking up the phone and cuts down internal order processing admin.

In the near future, Hobsons hopes to integrate the inventory management system with a route planning and optimisation software. The integration of these two programmes will further reduce manual order processing and planning, with the aim to move as much of the order process as possible to online software. Without the support of the MGP the integration would not be possible at this point in time.

“The Manufacturing Growth Programme has enabled us to maximise efficiencies through the implementation of innovative digital software and an optimised e-commerce website. Without the programme we would have struggled to source the required funds to implement both projects, the MGP has allowed us to get the new systems up and running at a crucial time, with online sales on the rise due to COVID-19. The MGP team have supported us across our journey, guiding us through grant application processes and answering any queries we have had along the way.” Nick Davis, Hobsons Brewery Founder.

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