HBAN today announced a €2 million investment in craft beer company, Wicklow Wolf. HBAN’s Food Syndicate is one of the leading stakeholders in the deal, which is also supported by Enterprise Ireland and a number of private investors.
Wicklow Wolf’s owners will use the investment to open a new, larger brewing site in Wicklow, which will enable a 15-fold boost in production capacity. This will support Wicklow Wolf’s plans to expand domestically and into international markets including the US, Asia and Europe. As it grows over the next five years, Wicklow Wolf will increase its staff base by 20. In doing so, Wicklow Wolf will increase its role in Ireland’s burgeoning craft beer industry, which is expected to see a turnover of €58M in 2016 – up 48% from last year.
Helping the company achieve its business goals is the HBAN Food Syndicate, chaired by Stephen Twaddell, which contributed €722,000 to the deal. Each angel investor has a history of success in the food and beverages industry while Stephen, now chair of Wicklow Wolf, was previously president of Kellogg Europe.
Founded by Quincey Fennelly and Simon Lynch through a mutual appreciation of good beer, the company started brewing in August 2014 and sold its first beer one month later to The Harbour Bar in Bray, Co. Wicklow. The business now supplies to 150 pubs and 550 off-licenses across the island of Ireland.
Speaking about today’s announcement, Quincey Fennelly, CEO at Wicklow Wolf Brewing Company, said: “Wicklow Wolf started off small, selling to local pubs and off-licenses. We wanted to make sure we had a solid base at home before we even thought about selling abroad. As soon as we started brewing, the local support we received from the people in Wicklow was unbelievable and it continues to be just as strong. We feel that now we are well-positioned to bring Wicklow Wolf to the next level and the investment will be crucial to that.
“It’s not just about funding; the angel investors from the Food Syndicate have years of experience in the food and beverages industry. They’ll have a big role to play when we expand overseas, helping us to avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that others before us have fallen into. Their knowledge and experience in manufacturing, distribution and international marketing will be of enormous value to the future of our business.”
Richard Cullen, lead angel in the HBAN Food Syndicate and co-founder of The Jelly Bean Factory, said: “As soon as I met the guys from Wicklow Wolf, I was extremely impressed not only with their product, but their whole story and passion. From an investment point of view, they have it all.
“The company is seeing rapid growth at the moment and I have been through all of the processes that they are currently going through. I now sit on the board of Wicklow Wolf and will act as an information resource to them as the look to expand internationally. On top of that, the investors in the syndicate are very much focused in the food sector, so there’s a wealth of knowledge that Wicklow Wolf will be able to tap into. The growing Irish craft beer industry presents the opportunity for a small number of leaders with scalability to emerge and bring their success to the international market. I believe Wicklow Wolf will be one of them.”
Stephen Twaddell, Chair of the HBAN Food Syndicate, said: “The Food Syndicate was very struck by the early success of Wicklow Wolf and how committed Quincey and Simon were to their business plan. They had been through the Food Works Ireland programme, a joint initiative between Enterprise Ireland, Bord Bia and Teagasc, that aims to develop food entrepreneurs. That provided them with very good grounding, but they also have their own spirit and zeal and we could really feel that. Investment decisions for the syndicate are never easy, but this was a stand-out initiative.”
Welcoming the announcement Meabh Conaghan, Senior Development Advisor at Enterprise Ireland’s Food Division, said: “A key focus for Enterprise Ireland is to help companies start, innovate and scale internationally. Wicklow Wolf is a great example of an innovative Irish company with strong global ambition. Enterprise Ireland has worked closely with Wicklow Wolf over the last three years and we look forward to continuing to work with them as they grow their export sales, creating jobs in Ireland”.
HBAN is currently on the look-out for more business angels to invest in high-potential start-ups like Wicklow Wolf. From Wednesday 9th November, the Business Angel Roadshow will travel to Waterford, Cork, Galway and Dublin, sharing information on what is required to become a successful business angel investor with prospective angels. For more information, visit hban.org.