Moray craft ale firm WooHa Brewing Company, which collapsed earlier this year with the loss of 12 jobs, has been bought out of administration.
New owner, the North Coast Brewing group, said it aims to restart production at the Kinloss brewery “very soon” and hopes to create job opportunities there.
WooHa went into administration in March, with the impacts of the Covid pandemic and Brexit blamed for its collapse.
North Coast Brewing acquired the business, assets and goodwill of the company from administrators FRP for an undisclosed sum.
The deal adds to a portfolio that also includes Uig-based Skye Brewing Company and Black Wolf Brewery, in Stirling, run by the Glasgow-headquartered group.
North Coast Brewery director, Kenny Webster, said: “We are delighted to have secured a deal with FRP and look forward to incorporating the brands and assets of WooHa Brewing Company into our new company, North Coast Brewing Co Ltd.
“We have ambitious plans to grow and the acquisition provides us with access to high quality production facilities, a range of quality brands and an established network of trade and consumer customers.
“We hope to restart brewing at our new site very soon and, as the business develops, we hope to create a number of new jobs. We will keep WooHa’s customers updated via social media.”
Craft beers with eye-catching names
Founded in 2015 by Heather McDonald, WooHa had built a substantial export business for its range of craft beers and regular seasonal releases.
Eye-catching brand names such as Roch N’ Roll, Hop Stampede and Jenny from the Bock helped the firm secure trade partnerships across a growing number of markets, including China, Russia, Italy, Finland, Israel and the US.
The company developed an expanding trade and online domestic business, securing agreements with leading brands such as Wetherspoons, Ocado and Amazon Prime, while also growing direct-to-consumer sales from its own website.
Since 2017, WooHa has operated from a purpose-built 16,000sq ft facility in Kinloss.
The business raised £2.3 million from private investors, including from a high-profile crowdfunding campaign, which helped create the infrastructure required to support a rapidly expanding export business and finance a major rebranding.
But it was hit by cash flow problems arising from rapid contraction of the global hospitality and licensed trade industry during the Covid pandemic, and increased costs and paperwork for exporters after Brexit.
Iain Fraser, a partner with FRP and joint administrator said: “We are very pleased to have secured a sale to North Coast Brewing Co Ltd.
The businesses associated with the director have a strong record of consistent innovation and Isle of Skye Brewing is one of the most recognisable craft beer businesses in the UK. “
“We wish the management team and staff every success as they integrate the former WooHa Brewing Company into their business model and with their forward plans for further expansion.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross welcomed the announcement that new owners had been found for the the brewery.
He said: “I’m really pleased that this locally based but internationally successful brand has been rescued.
“North Coast Brewing who have taken over, have a strong base to be able to take the WooHa brand forward and I will do everything I can to assist them in the future.
“Although I understand it will be bitter-sweet for those people who lost their jobs, I very much welcome the news that the new parent company have already started to recruit staff for their Kinloss site. ”
Isle of Sky Brewing has been trading since 1995 and supplies leading supermarket and pub groups.