Ales By Mail’s dispatch volumes in January were 190% up on the same month in 2013, and February saw a 140% uplift on the year before.
The company regularly works with around a dozen brewers, including Brewdog, Thornbridge and Dark Star, fulfilling online orders made on the brewery websites, and has ad hoc arrangements with a number of others, including London brewers By The Horns and London Fields.
Managing director Paul Kruzycki said working closely with brewers has helped the business to grow.
He said: “When we are negotiating with packaging and shipping suppliers, being able to factor in a lot more volume going through the business helps us get more competitive rates. It also gives us access to the beer in small quantities.”
Moving stock through two channels at a time – the brewery’s own mail order site and the Ales By Mail site – means beers stay fresh, and being able to work in smaller quantities helps cash flow, he said. The company is also helping some breweries to offer guest ales through their websites.
A pick-and-mix mechanism of 24-bottle cases of beer is working well for Ales By Mail, and is made simpler by working so closely with breweries.
“We have hit a rich seam of developments happening in the craft beer world,” Kruzycki said. “Our customers are individual consumers but also the breweries themselves. We are forging good links with clients to build long-term relationships, and that is what gives us stability and a growing business that affects the bottom line into the future.”
He added: “We have noticed that some [retail] companies are making quite ridiculous claims about how much they can sell and asking prices for breweries that are not sustainable and will end up effectively making the brewery no money at all – we have always been very keen on the fact that we are working in partnership with breweries, not going to them and hammering them down to the lowest possible price.”
Ales By Mail mainly focuses on British beers, but also has a range of international brews from Europe and the US.
Kruzycki said: “We have started importing our own beers from a couple of craft breweries in Spain, and we are looking at directly importing things from the States as well.”