How a Sheffield baker diversified during lockdown to form Banner Hops of Yorkshire

An innovative South Yorkshire baker took the risk of setting up an independent business on the eve of the second lockdown in England.

Banner Hops based on Ecclesall Road South, in Sheffield, opened on the day before the second lockdown in England, last month.

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At the start of the year founder Sophie Wood was working as a contracted food product developer, but when the first lockdown happened in March she found the market for development with supermarkets and businesses dried up as the industry cut back overnight.

Pictured, award-winning baker Sophie Wood, who has diversified during lockdown to open Banner Hops, a specialist bottle shop in Sheffield. Photo credit: Tony Johnson/ JPIMediaResell

"My previous role involved me travelling around the country which became more difficult due to the pandemic," Ms Wood, 31, said.

With a strong entrepreneurial spirit, which includes previously owning the award-winning Nottingham-based business Barmies - a producer of an innovative fermented baked beer snack, and a desire to move back to Yorkshire, the Sheffield-born business owner said she was drawn to the shop location, due to the community spirit around it's position.

"I saw the local parade of shops was really thriving during the first lockdown because of brilliant local support," Ms Wood, a graduate from the School of Artisan Food, said.

The shop unit had previously been home to a taylors business for 26 years, with the owner deciding to retire early due to the pandemic, and sits alongside a variety of independent shops on Silver Hill in Banner Cross, including a chocolate shop, cheese specialist, fish business and a bakery.

Owner Sophie Wood opened Banner Hops on the eve of the second lockdown in England. She said local support and community spirit had been vital since opening. Photo credit: Tony Jonhson/JPIMediaResell

Ms Wood, said she saw a gap in the market for a specialty bottle shop and officially opened on 4 November.

However it hasn't all been plain sailing as she initially thought she may break the world record for being the shortest bottle shop open in history - as she feared she would only be open for 24 hours.

"I was making the joke that I was literally going to be a 24 hour off licence," she said.

But due to off-licences being included as 'essential' retailers Ms Wood said she was thankful the shop was able to remain open.

Pictured, Sophie Wood, who previously owned the award-winning Nottingham-based business Barmies - a producer of an innovative fermented baked beer snack, and a desire to move back to Yorkshire.

She added the business was able to be an instant hit due to "vital" local custom and added support from social media groups in the area during lockdown - including a Whatsapp local group created for community business owners.

Ms Wood said: "Local communities engagement with each other has become much more prevalent during lockdown.

"A lot of Whatsapp and Facebook groups are very active around where the shop is and they are all talking to each other about the area, lending things to each other and when fellow business owners saw I was opening I was so thankful for their support."

With Christmas just around the corner local customers can look forward to a plethora of regional drinks including local ales, craft beers, and a selection of gin from both Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

Banner Hops specialises in a range of different alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks, with an extensive European range including specialist beers from Belgium, Germany and Holland. Photo credit: Tony Johnson/ JPIMediaResell

The business owner is also bringing a taste of Europe to the local area with a selection of specialist beers from European countries including Belgium, Germany, Holland and Spain.

"Trying those European beers takes people back to an experience they've enjoyed when they've been on holiday - so it's like a touch of Europe at Christmas," Ms Wood said. "I've noticed a lot of people are enjoying the Belgium beers especially - it seems nostalgic for them because they can't travel."

In the run up to the festive period Ms Wood also said non-alcoholic drinks had seen a boost and due to increased demand she has made the decision to open every day from now until Christmas.

For more information about Banner Hops visit here.


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