Inspiring Independents: Favourite Beers

Favourite Beers opened in 2010 and set itself up as the Gloucestershire centre for beer and cider lovers. The shop scooped OLN’s Drinks Retailing Awards for Independent Beer Retailer of the Year 2012 and Independent Cider Retailer of the Year 2013.

It has a constantly changing range of more than 400 UK bottled ales, an international offer including more than 120 beers from Belgium, and about the same number of ciders and perrys, some on draught.

Unashamedly catering to existing beer buffs – it offers generous discounts to card-carrying Campaign for Real Ale members – it is also

a comfortable environment for newbies with tutored tasting evenings, meet the brewer events, and sofas where customers can relax, browse the shop’s range of beer books and try before they buy.

Favourite Beers recently added an on-licence, and customers can sit in to drink a range of draught beers and ciders, or bottles for the small corkage charge of 50p.

Sum up your shop in a sentence. Favourite Beers is a paradise for beer and cider drinkers.

What sets you apart from other drinks retailers? Our passion and attention to detail. We don’t want people just to buy drinks from us, we want to offer a retail experience that helps to create well-informed and appreciative customers.

Who is your fiercest competitor? On price, the supermarkets, but in actuality we don’t even try to compete with them as we have such a unique, high-quality offering which sets us apart.

And how do you maintain an edge over them? By offering a range that is second to none and by imparting our knowledge and passion for the products to our customers.

How do you keep customers coming back? We have created a loyal customer base by treating them as people, not just as statistics or sales figures. We engage with our customers on a personal level, organising tasting events, meet the brewer evenings and engaging directly via social media and newsletters.

What area of the business is performing best at the moment? So-called craft beer can do no wrong at the moment – especially those from the US, although our cider sales continue to surprise us with their steady growth.

What’s your biggest challenge as a retailer? Keeping things fresh through innovation, new lines, new directions, new events – standing still just isn’t an option.

Give us your top retailing tip: Treat your customers as people – they will respect you for it and will come back.

What has been your biggest business mistake? Investing in a very expensive all- singing, all-dancing till and stock control system which we only use to about 5% of its potential.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given? Always stay positive – even when things aren’t going right, keep a positive outlook, keep smiling, get on with it and don’t give up.

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