Favourite Beers "optimistic" the business can survive thanks to support from loyal customers

Favourite Beers in Cheltenham has said it has been “absolutely blown away” by the “fantastic level of support” it has received from its loyal customers after it made the difficult decision to close the shop and offer a very limited home delivery service.

Owner, Leigh Norwood, said: “These are worrying times for small businesses.

“We have only been running our home deliveries for two weeks now, but in that time we have already made 130 deliveries consisting of almost 2000 bottles and cans of beer.”

Norwood said this support from customers has been important for so many reasons, one of which is, he admitted, because he “probably carries far too much stock at any one time”.

He said: “The negative side of this is that when, a few weeks ago, we were faced with a very ‘uncertain future’, I had a sudden panic attack, with the realisation that had we been forced to totally close, we would be sitting on thousands of pounds-worth of ‘very’ date limited products – with a cellar-full of beer rapidly heading towards being very ‘unsaleable’. The good news is that, with all of the recent orders, the cellar is looking fairly empty now and this most worrying risk has mostly been mitigated.”

The second reason he has welcomed the raft of support from local customers is that it has helped to keep the business solvent, he said.

“Although we are closed, as with all small businesses, we still have lots of overheads to pay including rent, utilities, licences, wages etc. I am in the process of applying for the Government Grant for small businesses (fingers crossed) which should it come through, will massively help us with these ongoing costs.

“But thanks to your support, we still have money coming in to keep us going - and of course you are still keeping myself and my daughter Rosie busy - albeit that with me self-isolating at home, Rosie has to do all of the physical work (with massive help from our good friend, and total superstar, Gary who is helping with home deliveries twice a week).”

And as a third point, Norwood also notes that the continued stream of orders has helped keep his spirits up.

Norwood took the decision to close the business to walk-in sales, despite the Government’s decision to add off-licences to its list of essential businesses that could remain open over the lockdown period and despite the “huge financial risks” that this placed on the business.

He said: “So you can imagine our delight when people have continued to go out of their way to keep ordering and supporting us in these most weird times. I cannot express how much this support and the great messages we are getting really mean to us - it is great to think that we have made such an impact on the local community to earn such a positive response.”

The company is now able to order new beer, but, Norwood said, he is being very selective about this and most new orders will be from local breweries as well as core beers and bestsellers from further afield.

He said: “I am far more optimistic now that I was a few weeks ago that Favourite Beers will be able to weather this crisis, although I think you will see quite a few changes when we finally emerge at the other side.”