September 17, 2020 @ 9:59 by Steven Hugill
A craft brewery boss has raised a glass to fresh investment he says will create jobs and fuel plans for national success.
The Great North Eastern Brewing Company has received £50,000 via the North East Small Loan Fund Supported By The European Regional Development Fund.
The cash – secured through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers – has helped the Dunston-based brewer install a canning line alongside an existing bottling line.
It says the move “opens up a range of new possibilities” for the business, adding it will open the canning line to fellow North East micro-breweries.
Founded five years ago by managing director Paul Minnikin, the Great North Eastern Brewing Company produces about 10,000 pints every week but is aiming to double that number in the coming months, with up to six new jobs expected to follow as operations expand.
Paul, who left a career in financial services to set up the business, said: “We’ve been growing steadily over the last few years, but we’re really starting to fly now, and the new canning line is the crucial next stage of our development.
“Having the new canning line alongside our existing bottling line really opens up a range of new possibilities for the business, both in terms of our own products and in helping other North East brewers reduce their costs by packaging their beers within the region rather than elsewhere.
“We currently have around 20 different products, which are widely available right around the North East, and our eventual aim is to become a nationwide retailer.
“The NEL team was easy to deal with, quickly developed a detailed appreciation of the business and really understood what we’re looking to do in the future.”
Paul also revealed the business has launched a crowdfunding campaign to support the next stage of its development, which will provide supporters with a chance to be the first to try its new Big Rivet beer.
He added: “Dunston has been the source of many iconic North East beers in the past, and through our new crowdfunding campaign, we’re looking to develop Big Rivet into the next one, as well as to keep the overall business moving forward.”
Part of the £120 million North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9 million North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne and Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of more than 1200 new regional jobs across in excess of 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, added: “The Great North Eastern Brewing Company is a highly impressive operation that delivers quality products to a growing range of customers and has a clear, robust plan for the next stages of its development.”
Officials say the overarching £120 million North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80 million for further investment into the region.