The Scottish brewery celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and founder Dougal Sharp said the most important development of the decade was securing a route into the off-trade market.
He told OLN: “It’s the most time-consuming, unsexy thing to do, but it’s so important, and now we need to make the most of it.
“We would love to help some of the smaller guys, good people such as Camden, Meantime and Dark Star, get into the off-trade.
“It would be great for a whole thriving category to have breweries like that in the off-trade, in supermarkets.”
Data Sharp buys tells him the craft and speciality beer market is worth around £33 million in the UK off-trade, but he believes it can grow many times bigger.
He said: “I am not one for gazing into crystal balls but it’s going to get bigger and we are going to drive it and we hope some other craft and speciality brewers get on board and help us drive it.
“There’s no use in us little players in the market competing with each other. Once all the craft players are collectively bigger than AB-Inbev we can fight among ourselves, but for now we should stick together.”
Innis & Gunn’s current output is 50,000hl, but he said that will double within three years. He believes if shoppers are faced with a clear, easy-to-shop craft and speciality beer fixture the category will thrive.
Sharp said: “Right now it’s a difficult fixture to shop.
“We need to organise ourselves sufficiently to create a clear craft message for the shopper. Ultimately it’s about choice and availability.
“The upside for properly managing route-to-market in the off-trade is that we can invest in consistent, clear consumer messages when shoppers go into supermarkets.
“We think about what the premium bottled ale fixture has done.
“Consumers are guided to shop within it, but there’s none of that going on within craft and speciality.
“If it was easier and more fun to shop it would sell more and retailers would give it more space.
“We want to make it the man crèche – that’s exactly what happened with premium bottled ale 10 years ago.
“The solution lies in our hands. This is not a retailer problem – it’s up to us to fix.
“We are committed to this and we want to take as many with us as we can.”