Beer for Good founder sells up to fo­cus on se­cu­rity firm

Sales have risen by more than £500,000 in 2 years New own­ers plan to con­tinue as so­cial en­ter­prise

The Scotsman - - Business - By HAN­NAH BUR­LEY

The founder of Scot­land’s first hos­pi­tal­ity so­cial en­ter­prise group, Beer for Good, has sold the busi­ness to fo­cus on other so­cial en­ter­prise ven­tures.

Beer For Good founder Chris Thewlis has trans­ferred his shares to Swedish busi­ness­man Mike Christo­pher­son and his wife Anna, in what is thought to be one of the first ex­am­ples of a UK en­tre­pre­neur sell­ing a so­cial en­ter­prise for a profit.

Thewlis an­nounced he will fo­cus his ef­forts on cap­i­tal­based se­cu­rity firm GTS So­lu­tions, of which he is founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive. The new own­ers, who al­ready own six bars in Ed­in­burgh, in­clud­ing Akva, Boda and Hemma, in­tend to con­tinue run­ning the op­er­a­tion as a so­cial en­ter­prise and will take on re­spon­si­bil­ity for the com­pany’s two Harry’s pubs and two cafés in the city.

In last two years, Harry’s turnover has in­creased from £120,000 to some £660,000, cre­at­ing 19 jobs, with em­ploy­ees pass­ing more than 130 cer­ti­fied cour­ses.

Thewlis, who has lived in Scot­land since mov­ing from Hud­der­s­field to study at Napier Uni­ver­sity in 2008, said: “It’s been a re­mark­able jour­ney with Beer For Good in many ways. It was a priv­i­lege to help the chain grow since its for­ma­tion three years ago, de­liv­er­ing on our so­cial mis­sion to help im­prove peo­ple’s lives along the way.

“While very re­ward­ing, it was in­cred­i­bly time-con­sum­ing and with GTS So­lu­tions tak­ing up more and more of my time, and more ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties on the hori­zon, I felt this was the time to pass it on to some­one else.”

Pri­vate se­cu­rity busi­ness GTS re­cently an­nounced that its turnover had dou­bled to £1 mil­lion in the past 12 months, fore­cast­ing sales to hit £5m in the next three years on the back of key con­tracts with Stir­ling Coun­cil and the Uni­ver­sity of Glas­gow.

Thewlis added: “Mike is well po­si­tioned to take on the pub side and it was a great op­por­tu­nity to do a good deal as he in­tends to keep it go­ing as a so­cial en­ter­prise.

“He is very so­cially-minded so the whole thing fit­ted in per­fectly. I’m sure it will go from strength to strength with him in charge as he con­tin­ues to de­liver sus­tain­able change in the com­mu­nity.”

Thewlis is also the co-founder of Gineros­ity, de­scribed as the world’s first so­cial en­ter­prise gin, and a board mem­ber of So­cial En­ter­prise Scot­land.

He added: “This deal shows that the CIC [com­mu­nity in­ter­est com­pany] model works; that a vi­able exit from a so­cial en­ter­prise is pos­si­ble if the proper ground­work is put in.

“The so­cial en­ter­prise sec­tor is thriv­ing in Scot­land at the mo­ment and we re­main a world leader in the field.

“GTS is a prime ex­am­ple of this and is go­ing very strongly. That’s where I see my fu­ture and I’m very ex­cited about what lies ahead.”

han­nah.bur­ley@jpress.co.uk

Stephen Brem­ner of Caith­ness-based Ash­ley Ann

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