“I think all brewers know that however good their beer is, it can still be ruined by not being cared for during delivery, storage and serving. One of the driving factors for us opening four UK depots is for the customer and product care this allows us to offer,” explains Colin Gilhespy.
Cave Direct’s founder, who is speaking at the Brewers Congress in London next month, is passionate about beer and in his own words, “It has been my life!”.
Gilhespy takes pride that the business doesn’t make deliveries via other wholesalers or couriers.
Instead they like to deliver with its own trucks and with their own drivers so every brewery they work with is offered exactly the same levels of logistical control.
“Both the account and the end customer get a better experience if make sure delivery schedules are in place, stock control is monitored and technical services are offered. A knowledgeable sales team and brand support are all part of the service too,” he adds.
Gilhespy is in good spirits, and he has every right to be. 2017 has been a very positive year for the business, with further expansion planned next year, too.
“2017 has been big for us because we completed our long-held ambition to directly supply all parts of the UK with the full Cave Direct Portfolio. At the end of the summer we opened our fourth depot, up in Newcastle, to supply the north-east and Scotland,” he says.
“That’s in addition to our Bristol warehouse that opened this time last year, our Manchester hub that opened in 2013 and is flying, and of course our mothership down in Kent, which opened in 1979!”
He adds “As well as adding depots we’ve been developing them all, adding cold storage in Kent and Bristol so we could care for our hoppy beers better and also start selling cask for the first time in our history.”
Gilhespy is also keen to point out that Cave Direct that has signed a 25-year lease on a 3,000 sqft shell space in a Hackney Wick Warehouse that the business will transform into a bar, bottleshop and blendery.
This will house 20 taps and around 700 beers in bottle and can. Impressive stuff.
He explains: “We hope this will become a mecca for all things beer whilst also acting as a school of excellence for our trade customers who can undertake everything from sensory training to cellar tech courses. The bar is under our Beer Merchants brand, which has also benefitted from us prising Luke Kulchstein away from Brewdog to be the driver behind our online store.”
And on that note, Gilhespy has some words of advice for breweries wanting to work with Cave Direct in the future.
“We’re very selective about who we work with so it’s a difficult. First has to come the beer – it’s got to be delicious, well branded, consistent and competitively priced. When you have some of the world’s best breweries on your books, anyone new we work with has to offer something truly special,” he says.
Gilhespy adds: “But it’s also down to relationships. We have worked with some of the same breweries since the 1970s and we wouldn’t be able to do that if we didn’t like and trust them, so we always make sure we know the people we work with so we can grow together and support each other.
“So I guess that means get the product right, run your business right and we’ll be very happy to talk beer and business!”