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Ale in a day's work for James Clay

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PostPosted: Tue Feb 14, 2006 4:02 pm    Post subject: Ale in a day's work for James Clay Reply with quote

Ale in a day's work for James Clay
Ian Briggs

YOU could drink a different beer imported by James Clay & Sons every day this year if you felt so inclined.
And if the firm's founder has anything to do with it you could soon have a beer list sorted for 2007.
James Clay & Sons has grown rapidly over recent months thanks to the growing popularity of drinking foreign ales in bars, restaurants and at home.
The firm, based in Elland, Halifax, imports more than 350 different beers from Europe and America and distributes them across the UK to supermarkets including Sainsbury's, Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose and Booths, and high street retailers such as Oddbins and to wholesalers.
It also supplies bottles and draught beers to bars and restaurants.
Managing director Ian Clay, who founded the firm with his father, James, in 1980, said he expected business to increase by 20 per cent by the end of 2006 on the back of the booze boom.
The company is already the leading supplier of speciality ale in the UK, importing almost five million bottles a year and turning over 8m.
The majority of the beers are imported from Belgium and Germany and include brands such as Chimay, Liefmans, De Koninck, Erdinger, Brooklyn and Goose Island.
The firm's portfolio includes varieties such as Trappist beers, Abbey beers, fruit beers, sour beers, smoked beers and wheat beers.
Mr Clay said new beers for 2006 would include Maredsous Blonde from the Duvel brewery and another ale from the Liefmans range. "People want to drink beers they haven't drunk before," he said. "It's a voyage of discovery to find new things."
Mr Clay said the firm was not interested in "etiquette beers" modern beers packaged and marketed as if they have a history to them.
"We import beers with heritage and interest which we want to introduce into the market."
He said the company's reputation often enabled it to hear about a new beer to import into the country before anyone else.
He and his team spend much of their time travelling abroad to find new beers they can import.
In its early days the company traded from a warehouse in Sowerby Bridge next to a building which Mr Clay renovated and opened as a pub called The Moorings.
By 1992 the beer business had a turnover of 300,000 and Mr Clay, who had by now been joined by business partner Andrew Armstrong, rented the pub out to concentrate on James Clay & Sons.
The business moved to its present 17,000 sq ft premises in Elland last year.
"Our business model is an aggressive reflection of the opportunity that exists for the growth of specialist niche beers in the UK," he added.
14 February 2006

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