Tony Kotronis, head brewer at Keith Brewery
Producing a range of craft beers at their microbrewery in Moray, Keith Brewery now export Snake Venom to countries as far afield as Hong Kong, Australia and Panama. We found out what's next for the team...
What does your company do?
We make a fantastic range of craft beers at our microbrewery in Keith, Moray.
When was your company launched, who by and why?
We took over the previous company and rebranded it in January 2015. We are the Discovery Investment Fund Ltd, based in Broughty Ferry, Dundee. We loved the idea of having an investment that made great beer and we love a challenge!
How long has the company been exporting?
What do you currently export, and where to?
We have an export brand called Brewmeister Beers, headlined by our market leading Snake Venom product. We export to Mainland China, Hong Kong, Australia, France, Panama, Germany, Spain and The Netherlands.
What motivated you to start selling overseas, and how long did it take?
Export is our primary focus and will continue to be going forward. Before the products were launched, we had in place an export agreement with the Craft Beer Clan of Scotland, and we had instant sales.
What is the easiest part of exporting?
There’s nothing easy about it.
And the most challenging part?
Probably getting used to all of the different regulations and documentation from HMRC, EHO etc.
Have language barriers, currency changes, etiquette and culture ever caused you any difficulties? How did you overcome them?
Absolutely. As a market leader we are continually challenged with copycat products in the Far East, our primary market. Trade mark applications and simple media press releases stating that we are the original have so far worked. With country and region specific social media our next channel for information.
Did you get any support when you wanted to trade abroad? Who from, and was it helpful?
Yes, Scottish Development International and Highlands & Islands Enterprise. Very helpful.
What advice would you give to someone just starting to explore overseas markets?
Do your research! Get advice.
Where next? What markets are you looking into and where do you see the company in 5 years time?
Next target markets are Japan (our COO is there this week), Taiwan, Russia, USA and Canada. However we are also concentrating on maintaining our current markets as there are still considerable opportunities available.
Keith Brewery have been shortlisted in the Micro Exporter and High Growth Markets of the Year categories at the HSBC Scottish Export Awards 2017 in association with Scottish Enterprise. Join us on 22 March to celebrate international trade across Scotland.