Brewer in administration
Covid and Brexit blamed for Wooha Brewing collapse
Heather McDonald: founder
Covid restrictions and Brexit have been blamed for Wooha Brewing Company falling into administration with the loss of 12 jobs.
The artisan brewing business based in Kinloss, Morayshire, founded by Heather McDonald, has suffered “unsustainable cash flow problems” arising from the rapid contraction of the global hospitality and licensed trade industry and problems and costs for exporters arising from Brexit.
Set up in 2015, Wooha Brewing had built a substantial export business for its range of highly distinctive craft beers and regular seasonal releases.
Its brands include ‘Roch N’ Roll’, ‘Hop Stampede’ and ‘Jenny from the Bock’ which helped the business secure trade partnerships across a growing number of markets including China, Finland, Israel, Italy Russia and the US.
More recently the company has developed an expanding trade and online domestic business, securing agreements with leading brands such as Wetherspoons, Ocado, Amazon Prime and growing direct-to-consumer sales from its own website.
Since 2017 Wooha Brewing has been operating from a purpose-built 16,000 sq ft facility in Kinloss with the capacity to support fast-growing demand. Since its inception the business has raised £2.3m from private investors which included a high-profile crowd-funding campaign.
The investment helped create the infrastructure required to support a rapidly expanding export business and finance a major rebranding.
Commenting, joint administrator Iain Fraser, partner with FRP, said: “Wooha Brewing Company is a high-profile craft brewing business with a substantial and growing trade and consumer client base.
“The business had grown rapidly in recent years, was well financed, and had a clear strategy and positioning in a crowded market. The business has unfortunately been severely affected by a combination of Covid, the contraction of its main markets and the bureaucracy of Brexit.
“Despite every effort by the directors to keep the business trading and ensure the company would be able to capitalise on the recovery when it comes, the severe financial problems meant that administration was the only option.
“Unfortunately, 12 members of staff have been made redundant with immediate effect, with two staff being retained to assist with the administration process.
“We will be working closely with the Redundancy Payments Service and other agencies to minimise the impact on the staff. We will also be looking to sell the business and assets, either in whole or in part as quickly as possible.”