Plans to relocate a successful brewery from Horsham to Pulborough were finalised last week to the ‘euphoria’ of its managing director.
Work has begun this week on Hepworth and Co Brewers’ new site off the A29, some seven years after Andy Hepworth decided to move the company from its current home in Nightingale Road.
He said: “It feels more like relief than joy, but it was a great relief to finally turn the concept into reality.
“There is a degree of euphoria in this, but also an idea that we must get it right. This is for the next 20 years and it has to be well thought through.”
The building phase of the project on the 1.8 acre site on land bought from Brinsbury College is expected to last around seven months.
Moving equipment will take another three months, and Hepworth’s has set a target of May 2016 to start operations.
Though Andy had a clear idea of what the company needed for a number of years, finding a suitable location proved difficult, while numerous planning issues have caused further delays.
He said: “The business has grown considerably over the last few years.
“It is very difficult to run a business which is rapidly approaching its capacity when you can’t expand. We have had to turn away business we would have preferred to have done.
“The most difficult thing has been having to plan and replan each time dates have moved. I think we have been very fortunate that our business has been strong enough to withstand that, and my excellent staff have taken the weight off me.”
The new site is three times larger than the brewery in Nightingale Road.
It will include a new shop, a larger brewery, bottling hall and warehouses, as well as space for further expansion.
The move will see Hepworth’s increase staff levels by ‘at least’ 25 per cent from its current number of 28, Andy said, including workers in administration, production, distribution and shop staff.
Andy said he was determined to keep the company in the Horsham area so it could remain a local business.
He added: “We wanted to stay near Horsham, but starting afresh was by far and away the best answer. It enabled us to design things in a logical manner which would make working the brewery much simpler.
“It is designed to be a brewery more pleasant for our workforce to operate in.”
Andy also credited staff and shareholders with their success and thanked councillors for their support, particularly former district councillor Roger Paterson.
He said: “We have a very talented and loyal workforce, and without that level of craftsmanship we wouldn’t be able to be in that niche in the market. Brewing has always been well supported in Horsham and we want to stay living locally.”
Hepworth’s began operating in 2001 following the closure of King and Barnes in the Bishopric the previous year.
The company’s success has seen it bottle and develop beers for other companies, including Marks and Spencer and Greene King, alongside its own traditionally-brewed beers and lagers.
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