THE finance director of one of Yorkshire’s best-loved breweries is to retire after 20 years in charge of the numbers.
Steve Drinkwater, Timothy Taylor’s first finance director, will leave the Keighley-based brewery in the spring.
He will be succeeded by John Varley, finance director of the Gravure division of Polestar, a Sheffield-based printer, who is due to join the company in May.
During his time at Timothy Taylor, Mr Drinkwater guided an £18m investment which doubled the size of the brewery. He also helped to build a small pub estate and develop a national reputation for Timothy Taylor beer.
Mr Drinkwater, who turns 60 later this year, said it was a tough decision to retire early from the business, which he described as a “fantastic place to work”.
He added: “My wife Ann and I reach 60 in the next few months, and, having seen a number of close friends die, or suffer from serious illness, at a similar age, we have both decided we would like more time to enjoy a better work/life balance.”
Mr Drinkwater joined the historic family-owned Landlord brewer in 1996 following 20 years in the newspaper industry.
After qualifying as a chartered accountant, he initially worked at the Blackpool Gazette before becoming group financial controller for United Provincial Newspapers in Leeds, which then owned The Yorkshire Post.
It was in that newspaper where Mr Drinkwater saw Timothy Taylor’s job advert.
“I thought who doesn’t want to work in a brewery? Particularly one that had an iconic reputation,” he said.
He added: “Fortunately, my inappropriate surname didn’t stop me from getting the job, even though it has caused some amusement within the trade ever since.”
Mr Drinkwater was Charles Dent’s first external appointment just after he became managing director and was the company’s first ever finance director when he joined the board in 1998.
Mr Drinkwater’s initial role was to set up the finance department from scratch.
“Our finance function has had to adapt over 20 years to satisfy the needs of the business that have changed significantly,” he said.
He regards some of the company’s awards as the highlights of his Timothy Taylor career.
Landlord won Supreme Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival in 1999 and the Gold Medal at the International Brewing Awards in 2000.
In 2014, Boltmaker won Supreme Champion Beer of Britain at the Great British Beer Festival and the Woolly Sheep won Best Managed House regionally and nationally in the annual Morning Advertiser awards.
Mr Drinkwater said: “I am proud to have played my part in a team which has enabled the company to show continued financial success whilst enhancing its reputation for quality, and also to oversee a period of significant investment in its brewery and pub assets all financed out of its own resources.”
That transformation of the brewery continued in 2014 when Tim Dewey was appointed the first non-family chief executive, taking over from Charles Dent who became chairman.
The company has just launched its first ever consumer advertising campaign ‘All for that taste of Taylor’s’ and is ramping up its export division.
The brewer has a new export agent, Sovereign Beverages, based in Blackburn.
Timothy Taylor currently exports to approximately 15 countries, with recent orders going to USA, Canada, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Gibraltar.
The company employs 110 people at the brewery and its two managed pubs in Keighley and Skipton.
Turnover for the year to September 2015 was £21m, a £1.8m increase on the previous year.