A Stoke-on-Trent microbrewery has been able to expand its operations with the help of loan funding from BCRS Business Loans.
RAN Ales Ltd was established in 2014 when Neville Smith, formerly a Master Technician Mechanic, transformed what was once a hobby into a booming business with the help of the his partner, Karen, and the Stoke-on-Trent Business Loan Fund. Although a large amount of personal savings had been invested into the business, an extra £25,000 of funding was required in order to relocate to larger premises and purchase new brewing equipment that would help to increase capacity.
The Stoke-on-Trent Business Loan Fund was specifically created to help local businesses that are unable to secure finance from mainstream lenders such as banks, and is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund. Run in conjunction with Stoke-on-Trent City Council and managed by BCRS Business Loans, loans ranging from £10,000 to £50,000 are made available to viable local businesses.
Neville Smith said, “Obtaining a loan from BCRS gave us the chance to move forward and transform our hobby into a marketable business.
“It was our accountant that advised us to contact BCRS after we were unable to secure finance from our bank. BCRS was a breath of fresh air and proved to be helpful and professional throughout the application process. We were at a low point and the ‘can do’ attitude of our loans officer, Zoe Wilkinson, took the weight off our shoulders and made everything feel possible. She was simply brilliant and took the time to really understand the needs of our business.”
RAN Ales currently brew from a unit in Fenton and produce a range of light and dark ales to supply pubs and festivals on a wholesale basis in the local area. Aside from offering traditional ale and stout, RAN Ales also offer a unique selection of beverages with some very distinctive flavours, such as honey chilli, cherry chilli, and rum and raisin.
“Upon completing a brewing course with a friend, I started to practice my brewing technique at home in my garage. After telling friends that I had produced my first batch of ale, the barman at my local pub, The Bench and Bar in Fenton, said ‘Bring me a barrel to put behind the bar and we will give it a try’. And that is how RAN Ales started. I was soon receiving orders from other pubs in the area. So many that I could no longer produce enough to meet their demands in my garage, which is when I approached BCRS for a loan in order to grow the business and fulfil orders,” concluded Neville.
After successfully marketing RAN Ales in its locality, Neville and Karen now plan to place emphasis on expanding into surrounding areas in a bid to achieve sales targets of 50 barrels per month.
Paul Kalinauckas, Chief Executive of BCRS Business Loans, said, “BCRS are committed to supporting businesses who require finance by identifying their needs and delivering this service at a local level. Businesses like RAN Ales would otherwise have found it incredibly difficult to secure the finance they needed in order to grow and progress. We look at the business and the people running it first, because our security is the quality of the operation itself.”
Councillor Janine Bridges, Stoke-on-Trent City Council cabinet member for education and economy, said: “ Stoke-on-Trent continues to be one of the fastest growing economies in the UK, we rely on partners like BCRS to help maintain that growth by ensuring small businesses have access to finance that would have otherwise proven difficult to secure from traditional sources such as banks”
RAN Ales were excited to have been chosen to feature as guest ale in The Strangers’ Bar at the House of Commons in London, where ‘Hedgehopper’ was available to purchase in October. In addition, following the success of limited-edition themed ales, ‘Wimbledon Flya’ and ‘Flya Half’ for the Rugby World Cup, Neville and Karen created a ‘Flya the 13th variety for Halloween.
For any Stoke-on-Trent based businesses looking for access to finance please contact BCRS Business Loans through the fast track online application facility at www.bcrs.org.uk or call 0845 313 8410.