THE owners of an award-winning family-run cidery in Warwickshire have launched a new crowdfunding campaign to help mount a post-pandemic recovery of their business.
Jolyon and Charlotte Olivier are inviting supporters to apply for at least £40,000 in shares of Napton Cidery following the success of their first round of investment two years ago.
The eight-week campaign is central to the entrepreneurs’ plans to re-emerge from the pandemic once again robust enough to build on the early success of their business – which started life as a hobby nine years ago.
Today, an eight-strong team at Napton harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 90,000 litres of cider a year, using 17 types of apples from six orchards across the Herefordshire region.
They also produce limited-edition ciders and perry as well as juices, spirits and vinegars.
Expansion plans were under way following the introduction of their tap room earlier this year, which was forced to close before it even opened in the first pandemic.
The business has also been impacted by cancelled tours, tastings, cider making workshops and monthly live music events at the cidery in a year which Jolyon believes has cost them more than £100,000 in lost revenue. The focus was then forced to pivot to home deliveries.
“The business side has been hit really hard. Up to 30% of our products were sold through our events and festivals which had to stop. We had to do some crisis management and rewrote our business plans in March but we were determined to find a way through. I don’t know where we would be without the web shop’s home delivery service. We would have been in a lot of trouble,” said Jolyon.
“We were a business that was ready to grow but had its wings clipped. The funding round would not have been needed without COVID.”
But he admitted there had been one lasting positive effect on the business.
“We’re selling more directly to the consumer now so we’re actually getting to know our consumers a lot better. And it’s helped small businesses come together and help each other out.”
Central to Napton’s growing popularity among customers is its strong sustainability ethos, from harvesting through to packaging. All of its apples come from traditional unsprayed orchards, organicand biodiverse growers, so no unnatural chemicals are introduced into the ecosystem. The cider is also naturally fermented using only wild yeasts and packaged in recyclable materials and all ingredients sourced as locally as possible.
In the short term though, the couple have set their sights on a period of regrowth and recovery for their business. This starts with the new investment opportunity, without which they admit, some tough decisions would have to be made.
“Our first crowdfunding campaign two years ago raised £148,000 which allowed us to expand, rebrand our products and bring staff on board. This new campaign is about sustaining growth. If we didn’t do this we would be having to make some cutbacks which would stunt that growth,” said Jolyon.
“There is no better time to get involved with Napton Cidery, we have an exciting future ahead of us.”