Issue Issue 106 October 2015
With over four decades of industry experience in supplying clients within the brewing industry, Morrow Brothers Ltd has established itself as a world leader in cask and keg refurbishment
Brothers Alan and David Morrow founded the company to provide repair and refurbishing services for kegs and casks within the brewing industry. Over the years Morrow Brothers Limited has continued to grow and expand its product portfolio, today providing a comprehensive range of containers, extractor tubes and snapcaps. “My father and his brother set up the business in 1969, as up until that time no similar such business existed,” elaborates Director, Liam Morrow. “Previously what happened when kegs or casks began to leak is that they were sent to the manufacturer and exchanged at scrap value on a pro rata basis against the purchase of new ones. This was fairly inefficient and not very economical compared to repair and reconditioning. A further benefit of this, although this was perhaps not as considered during the 1960s, is that it is also a relatively green approach. The business has continued to grow through industry trends of growth and decline and today employs 25 people across three sites.”
Further to its existing business, Morrow Brothers Ltd has recently expanded its service portfolio to include bottling operations, with the establishment of Morrow Brothers Packaging Ltd. The new business includes a new facility, based in Buckshaw Village and will operate as a contract bottling plant providing bottling, labelling and packaging services, as well as further distributing products for speciality beverage manufacturers. Much like his father before him, Liam initiated the establishment of the business in response to market demand, further solidifying the company’s reputation as a pioneering market leader. “The new business was set up on the back of customer requests from the smaller microbrewers that we deal with and supply casks to,” Liam reveals. “Within the brewing industry at present there is a chronic shortage of contract bottling. For example when you speak to the owners of most contract bottling plants, their capacity is full for the next three months. Additionally, at the lower level volume the metric of 50-60 barrels downward, the quality can be a bit hit and miss. What we are trying to do with this business is provide a gold standard of bottling at that lower level.”
HSBC Commercial Banking provided £355,000 in equipment finance and a term loan to expedite the establishment of the new venture. Morrow Brothers Packaging currently employs five dedicated staff and has been in operation for three weeks at time of writing. As a significant investment and a highly anticipated development within the specialist brewing sector, Liam is confident that the business will develop quickly in the coming months. “As a family business and SME wanting to grow in the region, the new plant at Buckshaw Village is an extremely important step for us,” he says. “Morrow Brothers Packaging Ltd will provide our clientele with a one-stop-shop for keg servicing repairs and bottling of beverages for leading breweries, including manufacturers of craft beer, lager and cider, that require expert care for their packaging and bottling process.”
Over the years Morrow Brothers Ltd has delivered products to clients across the UK as well as globally, particularly within Africa, Jamaica, Australia and New Zealand. Within the UK the present market is increasingly driven by the growing popularity of craft and specialist beers, which has in turn increased the demand of Morrow Brothers products from a growing base of microbrewers. “We operate in a very parochial industry,” Liam says. “Customers will contact us after hearing about the company from other supply chain representatives. For example, we had a visit from a representative of AB Vickers who had brought with them a head brewer and they were impressed enough to send down some beer on a trial basis with a view to send more down the track once we demonstrate that we can do what we intend to do. The UK over the past few years has been very cask driven by microbrewers, although there is very much a trend towards providing keg beers particularly in London. This is of benefit to brewers who are also bar owners as they are able to add a new revenue stream where they can control the margins, as well as develop an expanded brand portfolio.”
Over the coming years Morrow Brothers Ltd will continue develop its service offering and consider new investments that will enable it to further support the brewing industry. “The next phase will be to offer our own contract kegging facility, which is an obvious fit with our keg business. This will enable us to provide the keg while the customer supplies the beer, once the keg is full it can be delivered to wherever it is required,” Liam says. “Over the next 12 months we will naturally focus on getting the bottling plant up and running. As a family business we are able to move our strategy quickly and that independence also means that we are not tied into a particular supply chain, we can almost chop and choose and select what we feel is the best option in the market,” he concludes.