Rob Hart, Booker’s wine category manager for the past five-and-a-half years, has left the business to start his own microbrewery.
His position at Booker has been taken by Graham Threader, who was until recently sales and marketing director at the British Institute of Innkeeping. He has held similar positions with Indage UK and Waverley TBS.
Hart’s new Features > Business, Hart Family Brewers, will be based in Wellingborough, Northamptonshire – the town in which Booker has its headquarters. It will focus on the local on-trade but Hart, who was the wine and spirits buyer at Unwins before joining Booker, said all beers would also be available to the off-trade in bottle-conditioned form.
“If there’s one ray of light in the world of drinks at the moment it’s local ale,” he said. “We’ve found a fantastic early Victorian building in the middle of Wellingborough which was a gaslight works. The brew plant arrives at the end of May.”
Hart has been brewing his own beer for 10 years but this is his first venture as a commercial brewer. “We’re going to have a tight range of four core lines and we’ll bottle all of them,” he said, adding: “We’ll target independent wine merchants, farm shops and garden centres – slightly more premium retailers that are already building a market for local produce.”
The range will include a best bitter called Number 1, a ruby mild called Number 3 and a dark beer called Number 8. Hart also hopes to brew a cloudy wheat beer.