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Co-operative clusters brew across Wales

21 January 2019

Men sit and stand around table
Professor Maneesh Kumar and Dr Vasco Rodrigues lead focus group at Felinfoel Brewery HQ

A series of focus groups at Rhymney, Felinfoel and Purple Moose breweries have considered what it would take to form collaborative clusters in the Welsh beer sector.

Led by experts from Cardiff University’s Co-operation for Growth Project (Co-Growth), the events were attended by over fifteen different breweries from across the country.

Attendees used the opportunity to discuss areas for collaboration on business areas including: distribution, bottling/canning, product development, quality management, exports, training and energy procurement.

The focus groups follow a scoping workshop held in The Metropole Hotel, Llandrindod Wells in July 2018 where the Co-Growth Team from Cardiff Business School demonstrated how a cluster-based approach could generate significant impact for Welsh drinks producers in the areas of growth, return on investment, water and energy usage, carbon footprint and productivity.

Delving deeper

people gathered around brewing equipment
Workshop attendees are given a tour of the Purple Moose brewing facilities

Picking up where July’s event left off, each focus group delved deeper into the application of such an approach across Wales.

Professor Maneesh Kumar, Chair in Service Operations at Cardiff Business School, led an interactive session which focused on quality management in operations such as storage, production (fermentation and conditioning), delivery and waste disposal.

Discussions followed on the preconditions, motivations and benefits of implementing inter-company collaboration in the Welsh beer sector.

Among the benefits participants identified were renewed focus on core competences, increased sales by securing and entering new markets together and achieving joint cost savings.

Operational, financial and market risk

People gathered around brewing equipment
Academics and practitioners discuss brewing process at Rhymney Brewery

A number of potential risks involved with the formation of co-operative clusters were also identified.

The primary concerns of the cluster-based approach were the operational, financial and market-related risks posed to individual breweries through collaboration.

Participants explained how standardisation might jeopardise the diversity of Welsh beer available to consumers and how investment might not lead to immediate benefits.

Dr Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues, Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Operations Management at Cardiff Business School, said: “The three workshops were vital in progressing the aims of our research, to enable and enhance joint partnerships within the Welsh beer sector...”

“Part of this process is working through the logistics of such a venture. What are the benefits? The risks? What conditions need to exist for this type of approach to get off the ground? By asking questions of this nature the cluster-based approach will be more robust when established and participants will have played a central role in its foundation.”

Professor Vasco Sanchez Rodrigues Professor in Sustainable Supply Chain Management

The Co-Growth Team will follow the success of the focus groups by organising similar events with makers of wine, cider and spirits across Wales.

For more information about the Co Growth project, or if you are interested in attending a future event, contact Angharad Kearse.

Angharad Kearse

Angharad Kearse

External Engagement Officer, Executive Education

Welsh speaking
+44 (0)29 2251 0873

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