Loungers plc signs nationwide distribution deal with Hofmeister’s Bavarian Helles lager
Loungers, the leading national all-day café-bar operator based in Bristol, has signed a new distribution deal with premium specialty beer Hofmeister as a key beer in the group’s new line up. Loungers operates 235 locations through the fast-growing Lounge brand and more formal bar and restaurant brand, Cosy Club.
The move catapults Hofmeister back to being a national beer brand again following its revival as a world-class, authentic Bavarian-brewed Helles lager made to German brewing purity laws.
The Lounge brand was founded in Bristol in 2002 by three friends - Dave Reid, Alex Reilley and Jake Bishop. Having spent years in the restaurant and bar trade, they wanted to create somewhere they would drink themselves. Fast forward and Loungers has become one of the country’s fastest growing on-trade operators.
It is on course to hitting its target of 600 venues in the next 10 years across its Lounge (currently 197 sites) and Cosy Club (35 venues) brands, with around 30 new openings a year. It believes there is “scope for at least 600 Lounges across the UK” and achieved record revenues of £283.5million in the year to April 16 2023 up 19% on 2022 and a staggering 85% on its 2019 figures.
Adding Hofmeister to its premium beer line up fits perfectly with its strategy to promote brands that help it stand out, and differentiate itself on the high street.
Hofmeister, which was brought back to the market in 2017 by two beer entrepreneurs, Richard Longhurst and Spencer Chambers, has gone on to be named Best Lager in the world (IWSC 2017) for its revamped Bavarian 5% abv Helles-style lager alongside a string of other top beer industry awards.
Alex Reilley, Founder and Chairman of Loungers plc, said: “We are really excited to have Hofmeister pouring in Lounge and Cosy Clubs across the UK. It’s an iconic brand that has been brilliantly reimagined resulting in a beer that is seriously good whilst retaining its sense of fun.”
Alex Boyles, Head of On-trade at Hofmeister, added: “Loungers is among the most innovative and forward-thinking operators in our industry, we are thrilled and excited to be working together. They, like us, recognise there is a Bavarian-sized gap at the super-premium end of the beer category for those that seek a truly world class lager and a better beer experience.”
The move will see Hofmeister on the bar in all Lounge and Cosy Club venues by the end of September including a number with its standout branded ceramic fonts. As well as building sales and distribution, Hofmeister’s position in the market has been significantly bolstered by the strength of its senior management team that now includes top former executives from the Ei Group, Greene King, Heineken and Camden Town Brewery.
Its premium strategy has seen it achieve over 530% increase in revenues and sales in the last two years and rack up over 25 major quality beer awards as it continues to target the most aspirational and premium venues in the country.
Joint CEO and owner, Spencer Chambers, said: “We have positioned our Helles lager to sit at the top of the pricing ladder, in keeping with our award as the world's best lager. We want to add real value to the hospitality industry, helping great operators balance value for money with ever increasing retail price points and also provide them with a point of difference in their world lager offering, which for the majority will be their most significant drinks category. We see the distribution deal with Loungers, a wonderful business that we admire greatly, as a great endorsement of what we can offer the UK’s best operators.”
Hofmeister believes by working with national operators like Loungers it can take advantage of the huge growth and interest in the world beer category that on-trade business analysts, CGA by Nielsen IQ, said grew a spectacular 84.2% MAT for year end 2021 from £2.06 billion to £3.7billion at the end of 2022.
Earlier this year Hofmeister worked with leading global advertising agency BBH, to bring back the much-loved George the Bear, star of the brand’s original 1980s advertising, as a more grown up, classier version in keeping with its new premium, authentically Bavarian brewed beer. Gone is the “geezer” pork pie hat, replaced by a pin striped City suit and trilby hat with a campaign that saw George the Bear take over Piccadilly Circus’ famous advertising hoarding and appear in display adverts in the Financial Times.
Hofmeister is a fast-growing independent British company that slow brews authentic, multi award-winning beers in the heart of Bavaria, with a focus on best-in-class ingredients and craft.
The brand was relaunched in 2017 by co-founders and friends, Richard Longhurst and Spencer Chambers, who bought it outright globally from Heineken. Its signature beer, Hofmeister Helles, is an authentic imported Bavarian lager which continues to be slow brewed and cold fermented in Germany’s Bavaria. In 2020 it also launched Hofmeister Weisse, an authentic wheat beer and Hofmeister Ultra Low, a low alcohol Helles lager.
Hofmeister continues to win countless international awards, including the IWSC World’s Best Lager and Gold five years running at the European Beer Challenge.
Ingredients, process, and integrity has helped to foster a rapidly growing presence across independent high-end pubs, bars, hotels and restaurants who demand a premium lager offering.
About Loungers plc
Loungers operates through its two established brands - Lounge and Cosy Club - in the UK hospitality sector. A Lounge is a neighbourhood café-bar combining elements of coffee shop culture, the British pub and dining. As of August 2023, there are 197 Lounges nationwide. Lounges are principally located in secondary suburban high streets and small town centres. The sites are characterised by informal, unique interiors with an emphasis on a warm, comfortable atmosphere, often described as a "home from home". Cosy Clubs are more formal restaurant-bars offering reservations and table service but share many similarities with the Lounges in terms of their broad, all-day offering and their focus on hospitality and culture. Cosy Clubs are typically located in city centres and large market towns. Interiors tend to be larger and more theatrical than for a Lounge, and heritage buildings or first-floor spaces are often employed to create a sense of occasion. There are 35 Cosy Clubs nationwide.
Loungers launched its third brand, a roadside dining concept called Brightside, in February 2023. Brightside aims to bring proper hospitality back to roadside dining, offering a menu of freshly cooked comfort food classics in a stylish and nostalgic environment. As of August 2023, Loungers operates 3 Brightside locations.