Case Studies

Scottish brewery on track for £5m global turnover following support

An Edinburgh-based independent craft brewery, which began as a home-brewing project in its co-founder’s spare bedroom, is now shipping internationally after receiving support and signposting to funding from Business Gateway.

About the business

Vault City was launched to modernise traditional brewing styles with its own take on fruited sours beers. The beers, which are more aligned to cocktails and fruit ciders than IPAs or pale ales, are loaded with real fruit ingredients to develop flavours ranging from Raspberry Rocky Road and Strawberry Sundae to Cloudy Lemonade and Blackcurrant Choc Chip Waffle.

On a mission to convert non-beer and traditional beer drinkers, the brewery introduces new flavours every two weeks.

I spotted an opportunity to carve a niche in the craft beer industry, but I needed guidance to make it happen. Having one-to-one support from Business Gateway has been excellent. My adviser was a safe pair of hands throughout the process and really helped me to unpack all the obstacles that come with starting your own business.
Steven Smith-Hay, Co-founder, Vault City Brewing

How Business Gateway has helped

Co-founder Steven Smith-Hay, who describes himself as an “obsessed homebrewer”, had experimented with different sour and fruit beers while working in IT, and, with encouragement from his friends and family, took the plunge to set up Vault City in 2018.

Having never run a business before, he approached Business Gateway in search of expert guidance to develop the skills necessary for turning his vision for modern craft beer into a reality.

Steven’s local business adviser helped him to establish a business plan and identify routes for growth, as well as providing practical advice on how to manage cashflow.

Through Business Gateway, Steven learned about the requirements needed to set up an alcohol business online and received specialist support to develop a website, which established Vault City’s digital presence, increasing brand awareness and generating sales as a result.

Business Gateway was also instrumental in signposting Vault City to £100,000 of grant funding from Scottish Enterprise, which went towards the purchase of a decanter centrifuge. This new piece of equipment helped the business increase its yield and decrease its waste by 30%, in turn reducing its environmental impact.

Within five years of launching, Vault City has landed deals with the country’s biggest retailers, including Tesco, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose.

More recently, following advice from Business Gateway the business, which has grown to a team of almost 30, now exports to over 20 countries globally, including Singapore, Sweden and Thailand. Vault City is continuing to focus on exporting in 2023, with plans to break into the Chinese market.

Steven Smith-Hay, Co-founder, Vault City Brewing, said: “I spotted an opportunity to carve a niche in the craft beer industry, but I needed guidance to make it happen. Having one-to-one support from Business Gateway has been excellent. My adviser was a safe pair of hands throughout the process and really helped me to unpack all the obstacles that come with starting your own business.

“I’m really proud to say that four in every five sour beers sold in the UK comes from Vault City and can’t speak highly enough about the ongoing support I’ve received from Business Gateway since launching.”

Support Provided

1:1 Business Advice/Support

Webinars/Workshops

Advice on Company Regulations & Premises

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