TIMOTHY Taylor has unveiled its new brewery extension, the final part of a three-year, £11m project to secure production at its historic base in Keighley.
Charles Dent, managing director of the family-owned business, told the Yorkshire Post that the development is a “statement of confidence” in his company’s products, which include the famous Landlord beer.
He said the investment gives Timothy Taylor “greater certainty of quality and consistency” in supply, particularly during peak periods, and the ability to increase production if necessary.
The extension includes a state-of-the-art £2.7m barrel washing system, manufactured by Leeds firm Microdat, and six new fermenting vessels, supplied by Bibbys of Halifax.
The 153-year-old business is operating in a tough market and sales dropped this year for the first time in a decade after the company lost three major customers.
Mr Dent said the customers – two wholesalers and a pub company – had “decided to do things differently” and Timothy Taylor could replace the lost sales overnight, “by giving them what they want, but there is no point in giving yourself away”.
Instead, the company is finding new routes to market and is growing in other areas, including in the pub estate, which is benefiting from strong food and beer offerings, said Mr Dent.
He said: “Luckily, we have a strong balance sheet as well as a strong product so if people want to rough us up... to transfer some of our profit onto their P&L we will find others who want to work with us and luckily there are.
“We will be stronger and better as a result.
“We look after the people who want to have a quality product and understand the value of it, rather than just the price.”
Tough market conditions are not the only challenge faced by Timothy Taylor. Mr Dent was scathing about the Government’s hardline policies on tax, in particular, current levels of excise duty.
He said: “The person whose always abused alcohol more than anyone else is the Chancellor. Our excise bill is £6.5m. We buy the best raw materials to brew and spend £1m.”
In his office is a framed photograph of the US President Franklin Roosevelt who remarked “I believe this would be a good time for a beer” when bringing an end to prohibition in 1933.
Mr Dent described the ban on the manufacturing and sale of alcohol as “a classic example of getting the wrong result when you try to fix something”, which in the case of prohibition bankrolled the mafia for life.
He said: “Prohibition was unreasonable and we have got to the stage now where our excise is unreasonable.”
The UK excise regime has fuelled a black market for racketeers, who bring in beer, wine, spirits and contraband from Europe, where duties are much lower, said Mr Dent. He added: “When you have an unreasonable taxation people will go round it and very often you get what you don’t want.
“The 50p tax rate is another example. It has terrible implications. Businesses will move to Switzerland.
“It’s all very well for the big cheeses who earn millions to say they don’t mind spending a bit more, but it’s not fair on people who are aspiring and working hard in the middle.”
Mr Dent was speaking during an interview to mark the completion of his company’s redevelopment of the Knowle Spring site, established as a brewery in 1863 by the eponymous Mr Taylor.
The programme includes a new office, transport depot for the company’s fleet of branded vehicles, cold hop store, barrel store and effluent treatment plant.
Nick Berkovits, technical brewer, said the barrel washing system would go live by early October.
Andrew Leman, second brewer, said the new fermenting equipment puts Timothy Taylor “in a position to expand the business without compromising the quality of the beer”.
Taking Landlord overseas
Timothy Taylor revealed that it is considering exporting its bottled Landlord.
Charles Dent said: “We are looking at it. Step by step.”
But exporting its cask ale would be impossible, said the company.
Mr Dent explained: “English ale in an English pub is very specific to England.
“The factory across the road from our brewery has gone because most of that stuff has gone to the Far East.
“Cask-conditioned ale is only available in an English pub. You cannot have it at home.”
Meanwhile, the company has announced some new recruits. Grant Simpson, who joined from Enterprise Inns, is the new sales director. He has reorganised the sales team to reflect the changing customer base.
Another new recruit is James Dent, the managing director’s 31-year-old son, who joined as a salesman for the South East.