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Ainsty Ales eyes growth with launch of LEP-funded e-commerce website

A York-Based Microbrewery is eyeing growth beyond its York heartland with the launch today of a new “e-shop”, part-funded by a grant from the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

During the Covid-lockdown Ainsty Ales, which was launched in 2014 by Andy Herrington, saw sales plummet by more than 80 per cent brought about by the initial nationwide closure of the pub industry.

However, Andy kept the business going – and real ale fans happy – by opening a weekly “Drive-Thru” & Community Shop in April at his Acaster Malbis Brewery and, when restrictions eased, created a heated outdoor Taproom complete with haybale seats and Cask tables!

In addition, Andy tapped into the expertise of the LEP who provided him with a business coach in the guise of North Yorkshire entrepreneur, Tony Webster, and the finances to help create the new online shop.

Whilst still aiming to boost the number of local pubs offering Ainsty Ales on tap, the e-shop is part of a strategic move to break into new, domestic markets and the country’s continuing love affair with real and craft ales.

Additionally, whilst Andy has always held a relatively small stock of cans, he has taken advantage of Government loans to invest in a significant number ahead of the e-shop’s launch.

Andy said: “Coronavirus delt us a severe blow. It was a very difficult time, but by being resourceful and rolling our sleeves up we managed to stay afloat.

“York is the heartland of Ainsty Ales, our ales take pride of place in many City pubs, and we continue to be supported greatly by our local pub customers. Whilst Coronavirus was an initial blow, and continues to cause major problems, it has opened our eyes to other opportunities and new markets.

“The e-shop will allow us to open our door to craft ale-lovers, nationwide, just in time of the second lockdown. Initially, we will only be selling within the UK, but ultimately my goal is for Ainsty Ales to become an International brand.

“I’m incredibly grateful to the LEP for the support they have given us, and with Tony’s guidance and the new e-shop, I see Ainsty Ales entering a new and exciting phase, with our award-winning ales being enjoyed UK wide.”

Andy added: “Through to the Department of Trade and Industry we recently dipped our toes in the Scandinavian market, and it was a great success.

“Our brewery is located in the ancient York and Ainsty Wapentake, a Nordic once self-governing area boasting a rich, Viking heritage, and I’m delighted to say our Swedish customers loved this historical link and we plan to take advantage of this again at a future date.”

Tony Webster said: “It was clear that traditional markets were uncertain and new revenues streams had to be sought. Andy has been very agile and open to change and now being able to offer the core Ainsty beers in cans to a larger market is really exciting.”

Simon Middleton, LEP Growth Manger York, said: “SME’s are the lifeblood of the economy and one of the roles of the LEP is to support them in a number of ways.

“It has been a pleasure to work with Andy over the last five years, supporting him as his business has grown. It is particularly pleasing to see how he has adapted to the challenges of COVID and used LEP support to assist with the changes he has put in place.”

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