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The Icelandic bankers behind London’s ‘craft beer’ industry

 (Pexels)
(Pexels)

For some bankers, the financial crash of 2008/9 was a very difficult period. At Icelandic bank Landsbanki, the former CEO was even thrown in jail for his role in its collapse.

But other Landsbanki directors seem to have had a better time of it. Two former MDs, Alan McLaren and Brent Osborne, got together after the recession and assembled their own private equity business called Breal, using their experience of being in a financially distressed business to their advantage.

From its office in Cavendish Square, Breal has spent the last couple of years buying up craft beer labels on the cusp of going bust. Their strategy has been simple: snap it up on the cheap, sack the staff, close the brewery and keep the label alive using another brewery up north called Black Sheep, which they also bought out of administration last year.

The businesses bought include London’s Brick brewery and Brew By Numbers, with reports there have been discussions to acquire other ailing ale-makers. It’s a genius business plan: a range of ‘London’ ‘craft’ beers, which you might think were run by a couple of blokes out of a shed in zone three, are now all brewed at a factory in a town called Masham. “There will be a little piece of South East London in North Yorkshire,” is how Breal rather colourfully described the plan.

Next time you have a sip of your craft beer, give them a toast.

 (Evening Standard)
(Evening Standard)

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