Partnership brews up success

10 April, 2009

Rhythm & Booze and Barnsley Beer tap into recession-busting own-label

Rhythm & Booze has teamed up with the Barnsley Beer Company to release its own range of bottled ales.

The northern off-licence chain has launched three beers already - Black Brite stout, Bee By Gum honey beer and Barnsley Better bitter - and plans to have a 10-strong range altogether.

The idea came about after managing director Martin Swaine's father Ronnie died of bowel cancer in August 2008 and the company decided to brew a beer as a tribute to him - a pale ale called Ronnie's Owd Cock. From every 99p bottle sold, 10p goes to Bowel Cancer UK.

"We launched it in December and it sold really well, so we thought we would keep it going for a year, and we are doing other things throughout the year to raise money for Bowel Cancer UK," said Swaine. "We are hoping to raise

up to 50,000."

The beers carry food matching

tips on their labels. Swaine explained: "We recommend foods to have with them - what I would call local delicacies, like pork scratchings, black pudding or pork pie."

Swaine said Rhythm & Booze is weathering the economic downturn well. "Sales are very healthy

- we are in a strange way benefiting from the recession," he said.

"Our sales are up, on a like-for-like basis, 22-25% most weeks. I can only put it down to the demise of the pubs -

there are less people going out, they tend to be staying in and saving money but still want to have a drink.

"It is a value proposition that we have got anyway. We have always been very competitive and we still are, we have got some great deals on. Things are very good at the moment."

The chain has grown from 35 shops last year to 37

and has six shops due to open soon. "Our aim is to open five to 10 shops every year," said Swaine. He is also preparing to open a unit as part of a discount frozen food retailer which does not have its own off-licence offering in the next two months.

The estate will remain centred in its Yorkshire, Humberside, Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire heartland. "There is still lots of opportunity around here,"

he said.

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