Key questions for us when considering new suppliers are: what is the potential for growth and how can we stand out? Few sectors can answer this as thoroughly as the craft and microbrew beer sector.

A tell-tale sign that it’s ripe for ranging is the eagerness of established players to enter the market. Just this week we spoke to Tennent’s regarding their new range of premium bottled beers.

Supermarkets have been quick to capitalise on the trend, but we still feel there’s opportunities for independent retailers to both expand their credibility as a destination store and increase alcohol revenues.

The craft beer opportunity doesn’t end on the shelves. We’ve also been considering introducing growlers in store. These are self-filling stations that allow customers purchase a bottle and refill it themselves in store, providing a way to have draft beer at home

When selecting what craft beers to range it is important to remember what’s driving the market’s rapid expansion – people want to try something different. So while there are essentials such as Brewdog, a deciding factor in how successful any craft range is will be how well a retailer can source bottles and cans not found elsewhere.

We’re lucky enough to have the space in most of our stores to stock a large range, but this driving factor of trying something new means that even stores with limited room can make the most of it by refreshing the range on a very regular basis.

For us however, the craft beer opportunity doesn’t end on the shelves. We’ve also been considering introducing growlers in store. These are self-filling stations that allow customers purchase a bottle and refill it themselves in store, providing a way to have draft beer at home.

When we first considered it, we decided against it as the craft market wasn’t mature enough and we were concerned that the buzz could wear off after a couple of weeks. However, we now think it’s the right time and will be looking at trialling this in the next couple of months.

Other elements to bringing craft beyond the shelves include educating our staff to be able to guide customers, working with super local breweries to achieve exclusivity and also arranging taster evenings in store, where suppliers attend and share their expertise.

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