Calling time on The Bottle Shop


As someone who has been writing about beer for 25 years I’m stating the blindingly obvious when I say there has been a revolution in the industry. Anybody who has been interested in drinking beer will have enjoyed riding the wave. Lots of businesses have jumped in to satisfy demand – maybe too many businesses.

There will sadly be some fall-out. Unfortunately one of the pioneers of the craft beer industry has today called in the administrators.

Backtracking – I can recall standing outside a bar at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Leeds in 2012 with Andrew Morgan, founder of The Bottle Shop, who was (yet again) outlining his plans to me for his business in the burgeoning craft beer industry, having opened a tiny shop/bar in Canterbury in 2010.

He became a good friend, I invested in his business when he crowdfunded, and when I became co-owner of Bohem Brewery The Bottle Shop was the natural choice to become the exclusive distributor and Bohem lagers were regularly on the lines in his bars.

The news today will clearly have a material impact on me and on many other people – both financially and personally. The Bottle Shop won’t be the only business to find the going tough as the industry matures but it is very sad to see one of the pioneers, with its uncompromising stance on beer selection and high standards, having to leave the scene.

Statement from Andrew Morgan, founder of The Bottle Shop:

As of today, Monday the 25th of March, all employees of The BottleShop have been made redundant and David Rubin and Partners have been appointed to assist the director in placing the Company into liquidation. The Company does not go into liquidation until April 12.

We came incredibly close to agreeing an offer that would have not only saved the business but given us a very bright future but it didn’t happen. As the Director, I had a legal obligation to discuss our finances with an insolvency firm once the deal fell-through and today’s news is the result.

Having succeeded on Crowdcube in 2017, we saw a major supplier drop us shortly afterwards and took 23% of our wholesale business with them. This was a torpedo blow to our forecasts and though the team valiantly and brilliantly battled to overcome this, when another top-three brewery dropped us with no notice last year, it didn’t help our situation.

However, we had our highest ever turnover reported in November 2018 and it looked like things were improving but December and January were well under forecast and I knew we had to find a partner or new finance. We brought on a consultant to help with this and quickly realised the extent of the financial legacy we were carrying from the breweries we’d lost. I set about finding a partner and came incredibly close to announcing something very positive but it wasn’t to be.

This is small consolidation for those who are left with debts outstanding from the business. I know it’s going to have a knock-on effect within the industry and it’s a very tough environment for everyone out there. Having devoted over eight years of my life to this, being the biggest shareholder and lent the business money, I’m not immune to the reality of this situation but we all make choices and sometimes they don’t work out. However, as one BottleShop ex-employee said as they left the building ‘at least nobody’s died’ which has stuck with me as something that I have to remember.

We made a lot of people very happy since 2010 and hope that whoever ends up buying the business carries on our desire to burn brightly and never settle for anything other than the best. Huge thanks to everyone who helped on our journey – staff, customers and breweries. We had some great times and it’s incredibly sad for us to end like this.

Glynn Davis, editor, Beer Insider