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A heady brew for business success

Homebrewing has proved popular in Colchester
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Homebrewing has proved popular in Colchester
Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space by Siobhan Stirling - Sharp Minds Communications for Capital Space
Owner/Director - Sharp Minds Communications Ltd

Andy Sadler has been based at our 22-year-old Colchester business centre site for 19 years, so has his fair share of knowledge about owning and running businesses. One of the key maxims he’s clearly taken on board is ‘always have a Plan B’. Indeed, when demand for his initial business offering slumped, he turned his Plan B, which grew out of a hobby, into a highly successful – and very different - business

40 years in the making

Since the early 1980s, Andy Sadler has gained much experience in the home-brewing field. When demand for his transport business, which had also been based at Colchester Business Centre, declined in 2008, he decided to start anew. Colchester Homebrew saw him take his hobby and shape it into a viable business opportunity, using Colchester Seedbed and Business Centre and the support is offers as the bedrock for his new venture.

Homebrewing on the rise

Colchester Homebrew provides kits that customers can buy, then use at home to create their own beer and wine. Andy describes them as a kind of cake mix –similar in the steps taken to get the end bakery product, but with a little more wait time! Once water is added to the main ingredients, the next step is to ferment the mix and keep it stored at room temperature. Mixes can take between four to 10 days to ferment and can be ready to drink in as little as two to three weeks. With the option to use different ingredients in the beer-brewing and varieties of grape or other fruits within winemaking, the kits make an exciting home project. If customers are using the re-usable equipment, they can repeat the process again and again.

Seasonal and yearly challenges

As with all business sectors, homebrewing businesses fluctuates throughout the year. One lull that Andy has had to account for is Dry January – orders tend to drop and then rise again in February after many people have finished their month of going alcohol-free. He also notes the different buying habits that vary throughout the year: “Beer-kit sales stays pretty stable, as customers know what they like and tend to stick with it. But for those making wines from fruits and vegetables rather than from wine kits, in the spring, there could be a rise in orders of elderflower-based wines. At another time of year, wines with strawberries or gooseberries could become more popular as the fruits come into season.”

Capital Space is the perfect base for Andy, as he feels it can accommodate the fluctuations his business experiences, not just seasonally, but in the long term, too.

“In 2010, we had a big influx of orders and moved to a larger unit within the Colchester Business Centre. You can stay within the gates, so customers know where to find you, but can still shift to a bigger space that works for you.”

Similarly, Capital Space’s flexibility proved just as effective in more lean times. When competitors emerged and the space his business occupied was no longer cost-effective, Colchester Homebrew was easily able to return to a smaller unit. Inf act Andy has moved his various businesses within the site at least six times over his 19-year occupancy, easily finding the perfect space to accommodate his business at different stages of its growth.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it

When considering his ambitions for the future of Colchester Homebrew, Andy plans simply to keep doing what he’s been doing– after all, it’s been working for over ten years.

“Retirement isn’t that far off for me, and building this business out of a hobby has kept my stress levels down, which is great.  I haven’t needed to fret about turnover or worry too much about competitors, as I’ve built up a loyal customer base.”

About 70% of Colchester Homebrew customers provide repeat business, meaning there’s always an audience to cater to, and being based in Colchester Business Centre makes it easy for local customers to reach him, with easy parking. Andy put his success down to simple principles such as planning finances down to a T and keeping margins stable – and to having such a loyal customer base. “I always give the sort of service I’d hope to receive as a customer– I treat them as I would like to be treated,” he says.

Andy Sadler’s 20-year run at Colchester Seedbed and Business Centre reflects the rewards that can come with turning a hobby into a successful business and the advantages that flexible accommodation can provide when it comes to business fluctuations.

To find out how  Capital Space virtual offices or business premises

could benefit your growing business,

call 0800 107 3667