West Berkshire Brewery raises £1.3m in fundraising appeal

Packs of beer cans on a production line conveyor belt
Image caption Investors are rewarded with discounts, brewery tours and beer subscriptions

A fundraising appeal by a brewery to help it through the coronavirus crisis has raised more than £1.3m.

West Berkshire Brewery, based in Yattendon near Newbury, appealed to its shareholders and new investors in May during lockdown.

More than 1,100 investors have pledged between £10 and £25,000 each.

Managing director Tom Lucas said the funds would help to grow the firm's packing business and safeguard 100 jobs.

Neil Cox from Newbury, who invested £200, said: "I saw they were searching for investors and I thought, local business, Covid time, wants to get more funding in to expand the operation - that's really good and we should support those local businesses."

New investors gave £450,000 through a crowdfunding website while existing shareholders provided £900,000, the firm said.

Image caption The firm wants to buy new packing equipment

The firm said the money would fund equipment for its expanding packing operation and fund the acquisition of pubs to add to its portfolio.

Investors are rewarded with discounts, brewery tours and beer subscriptions, depending on the amount of money pledged.

Mr Lucas said: "This is to support growth and to help safeguard the jobs - we have about 100 full-time employees and we need everyone's support to keep going.

"We had the best ever month for online sales - four or five times better than Christmas - but about 85% of our business dried up in the first week of lockdown because the pubs shut.

"We've managed to pivot the business very quickly and we are now canning and bottling for a lot of regional and national brewers across the country and supplying to the supermarkets so we've never been busier, which is a paradox."

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