Napton Cidery: Adapting to a Pandemic
Napton Cidery Founders Jolyon and Charlotte
Napton Cidery was a thriving business about to open the doors to its new tap room in March 2020. But then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the tap room was closed before it even had chance to welcome customers. Couple that with cancelled tours and Napton Cidery founders, Jolyon and Charlotte, had to consider a pandemic survival strategy for their business and fast. In this interview, they talk to Micro Biz Mag about what the last year has been like and how they've adapted.
What inspired you to start Napton Cidery?
We were first introduced to the taste of craft cider on a family holiday to Cornwall nine years ago. Returning home with an apple tree, we then soon started experimenting in our back garden and it grew from there.
In a nutshell, what did your business do before Covid?
There is an eight-strong team of us at Napton, which harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 90,000 litres of cider a year, using 17 types of apples from six orchards across the Herefordshire region. We also produce limited-edition ciders and perry as well as juices, spirits and vinegars.
How did Covid affect the business?
The business has been impacted by cancelled tours, tastings, cider making workshops and monthly live music events at the cidery in a year which has cost us more than £100,000 in lost revenue. And the new tap room which we launched in March 2020, was forced to close before it even opened at the start of the first lockdown!
What changes did you make to get your business through the pandemic?
We had to do some crisis management which resulted in an online shop being set up and, more recently, a crowdfunding campaign to raise £40,000 to help sustain their future growth plans and prevent cost cutting. We were a business that was ready to grow but had its wings clipped. The funding round would not have been needed without COVID.
How’s the business doing today?
Online sales are booming but the crowdfunding will help make up the shortfall from the closure of the rest of the business. We’re selling more directly to the consumer now so we’re actually getting to know our customers a lot better. And it’s encouraged small businesses come together and help each other out.
And finally, what do you expect for your business over the coming year?
The challenges of the pandemic have not grounded our ambitions and we still plan to produce a new line of apple brandies within the next 18 months as well as canned products. We are also very much looking forward to reopening our tap room and live events business.
Thank you so much, Jolyon and Charlotte.
If you want to get your hands on some Napton Cidery’s products and find out more, you can visit the website here.