Range Ales Brewery is what’s known as a ‘micro-brewery’; we make beer in small batches, using traditional techniques and high quality ingredients to achieve distinctive and enjoyable tastes.
We’d both had successful previous careers – although nothing to do with brewing!
After chatting on the way home from the pub one evening, we realised we shared a passion for beer, had money to invest and could bring relevant and complementary skills to the table: David had over 30 years of business experience and Jim was an accomplished home brewer.
OUR LOCATION – LYMPNE
We started life a gunshot away from the Hythe Ranges, which inspired our business name. Beer and the place it’s brewed have a special connection, that’s reflected in the names of our beer which draw on Shepway’s rich military history.
After non-commercial trials, we moved to Lympne Industrial Estate to start commercial production in 2016. Finding suitable business premises was very challenging but we kept looking and eventually found our current site. It would be good to see more business accommodation in the 100-300 square metre size range for businesses like ours in the future.
ADVANTAGES OF OUR LOCATION
We both live in Hythe; it was convenient for us to stay local, and allows David, who’s blind, to get to work independently.
There’s a strong local market for what we sell; Kent is the home of beer after all. Recently Kent has spearheaded the rise of the micro-pub, these and other independent retailers complement what we do and enhance the experience for our customers. As an independent business in Shepway, we both benefit from and are part of local regeneration.
Some of our suppliers, particularly of green (fresh) hops are also located in Kent.
We benefit from small business rate relief on our business rates. It’s a national scheme run by the local authority. It makes a big difference to profits and the all-important cash flow.
OTHER SUPPORT AND NETWORKING
There’s a strong network within our industry and Kent has an established infrastructure in the form of beer festivals, awards and events; we were the biggest supplier of real ales at the Hythe Food and Drink Festival in 2017, and won 2nd prize in the Canterbury Green Hop Festival with our beer Special Ops.
David is a member of the UK Visually-Impaired Self Employed (UKVISE) Group – a networking group to share ideas about business and in particular anything that may affect those with little no sight.
ADVICE TO START UPS
Do your research
Research is never wasted, you can never know everything but what you do know will help you manage the unexpected things you will (no doubt) come across.
Get your day-to-day finances in order
Profits are unlikely to come quickly in a new business so be prepared with savings to cover your living expenses in your first couple of years.
Be open to opportunity
Have a plan and try to stick to it but be prepared to take advantage of unexpected opportunities when they come up.