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HIE supports Isle of Skye brewery to expand

28 October 2014

A brewery based on the Isle of Skye which is experiencing a growing demand for its award winning beers is to expand into new markets around the world.

The £450,000 development at the Isle of Skye Brewing Company is being supported by a grant from Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) at the company’s site in Uig, Isle of Skye.

The company is expanding the production capacity of its existing brewery in Uig where 12 staff are currently employed. This is the first phase of the business’ long term development plan with this initial expansion expected to create a further five jobs in Uig.

As the customer base continues to grow, the company has established a distribution centre in the central belt and recruited two business development managers to lead growth of the brewery’s customer base at home and abroad.

The brewery has also begun rebranding, with Red Cuillin becoming Skye Red, Black Cuillin now Skye Black and Hebridean Gold has become Skye Gold. The original product has been retained to keep its taste and quality but the rebrand has made it more attractive to modern drinkers.

HIE is supporting the project with a £116,000 grant to this first phase of a long term development for the company in Uig.

Kenny Webster, Managing Director said: “There is so much more potential to grow the business both at home and internationally and we would like to introduce new kegged products. We are delighted with HIE’s investment as this will allow us to increase production, support our rebranding and establish new national and overseas markets.

“To accommodate the increase in production, a new building is required to house the existing storage to free up room within the current brewery building for new tanks. The developments will enable us to double our number of staff by next year and it will also triple our turnover in the next three years.”

The brewery was established with support from HIE in 1998 by founder Angus MacRuary although the main operator and majority shareholder is now Kenny. Angus’ extensive knowledge and expertise has not been lost as he is now the Operations Director.

Angus said: “Our new expansion plan means that we are now revisiting export markets where we have previously sold our beers such as USA, Canada, Finland, Switzerland, and Japan. This has been aided by the Smart Exporter programme delivered by HIE – an excellent programme which we found to be informative and very beneficial. Export markets are to the fore in our business plan, which will double our production capacity in the next four years. It’s an incredible journey and we are set to export 20% of all production in the next three years.”

To further strengthen the Skye Brewing Co team, Cameron Murray has been appointed through the award winning ScotGrad Graduate Placement Programme. He will focus on the rebranding and social media project. ScotGrad is funded and delivered in the region by HIE and the European Regional Development Fund.

Caroline Forsyth, Development Manager at HIE, said: “HIE’s assistance will allow the business to immediately increase their productivity on their site in Uig, transform their existing team to develop capacity towards their three year plan to increase domestic and overseas sales, as well as providing employment opportunities in the fragile area of Uig. We wish them every success in the expansion.”


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