I have a huge soft spot for the good people who put great selections of beer at good prices on their store's shelves. For me, retail is my main route to good beer - not the pub and not the brewery. So, it was glum news we heard from Zak in Leeds a few weeks ago telling us his shop had apparently gone sideways. Now we know it was temporary and now we know Zak is back:
It wasn't a solvency issue - the business is solvent and viable. But equally, we were advised by a fancy, serious, £400-an-hour lawyer (and it was a loooooong meeting) not to do anything on behalf of the company, so if you called me and I seemed less than helpful, I'm sorry. But read on, because there's good news. Myself and the company operations manager rushed around trying to find a solution, and have happily succeeded. We organised a management buy-out - basically, we made an offer for the entire company (shop, wholesale and mail order), which was accepted. We are going to continue trading, honouring all existing debts and liabilites, and are going to carry on and build an even more successful business, buying and selling great beer to businesses and consumers across the UK and beyond.
Sounds like they need a new name. Perhaps "Beer Empire" with that sort of scale of planning. In addition to being a great beer blogger, Zak's been a supporter of the Christmas photo contest and already has a great beer book on his resumé. But, with all due respect to others and their connections into the beer trade, I am most impressed by how Zak is on the front line when he's at that shop's front counter. The knowledge gained by a wide cross section of consumers choosing to walk through that shop door is invaluable and sets him apart. Good news. And good luck!