The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has named Mike Benner, currently chief executive at the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) as its new managing director.
Benner's appointment follows a strategic review of SIBA which will see it combine the management of the trade association and the commercial arm to create a unified organisation. Under the new structure, approved by members at its AGM earlier this month, Benner will lead a SIBA Executive to run the organisation with the Board of Trustees continuing to provide oversight, direction and ultimate control of SIBA. The 24 trustees are drawn from the eight SIBA regions.
SIBA chairman Guy Sheppard said, "I'm delighted that Mike is joining us to lead our expanded organisation. His political astuteness, proven campaigning ability and passion for great British beer make him uniquely well-placed to take SIBA forward.
"Our trade association and commercial arms have a shared goal of helping our members to thrive within a favourable political, social and trading environment for British beer. Aligning our activities into one unified structure puts us in a stronger position to realise this ambition."
Sheppard continued, "As a long-standing trustee of SIBA, I am proud of the organisation's growth from small beginnings 30 years ago. The position we now occupy, as a respected trade body with considerable political clout, is thanks in large part to our chief executive Julian Grocock, who has raised SIBA's profile immeasurably over his last seven years at the helm." Grocock, who chose not to apply for the new managing director role, continues as chief executive until Benner's start on 16 June.
Nick Stafford, SIBA's commercial director, will continue his valuable work with the organisation under Benner's direction. Sheppard said, "Without Nick, SIBA's commercial venture would not be the huge success it is today.
"Nick has worked tirelessly to help SIBA brewers find a market for their beers, most notably creating the Direct Delivery System (DDS) which over the past decade has placed local beers in thousands of pubs that would otherwise have been closed to them."
Benner has been chief executive at CAMRA for 10 years during which time the organisation's membership has doubled and it has been placed on a financially stable platform. He has been at the forefront of many campaigning successes including the scrapping of the hated beer duty escalator and planning reforms to benefit pubs.
Mike said, "I'm very proud of CAMRA's achievements and it's been an honour to be part of such a great organisation. I leave in the knowledge that CAMRA is fit for purpose to continue its success. I am very excited to join SIBA at a time when there is such enormous opportunity for independent brewers and I look forward to working towards its vision to build the future of British beer."
Caption to attached image (l-r): SIBA chairman Guy Sheppard and Mike Benner
Once again, the London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival held a trade session dedicated to London beers and were delighted when 14 SIBA members dedicated to support the session.
The event, held on the Thursday afternoon of the Festival, was for trade guests only and around 230 brewer reps, licensees and beer writers registered for the session. These were completed by a variety of local Councillors, who were invited to reinforce the importance of pubs and local breweries to London's economy. A brief speech was made by the Mayor of Islington, who pulled a pint of SIBA member, East London Brewing's Wheat Porter.
Christine Cryne, Festival Publicity Manager, said '30 years ago, when the London Drinker Beer & Cider Festival first opened its doors, there were only 8 breweries in London and 9 brewpubs. At the latest count, this number has grown almost 4 fold; a staggering 42 breweries and 19 brewpubs and the Beer Festival had over a third of them on a bar dedicated to just London breweries!'
Christine added 'We have been so delighted in the feedback on the trade session that we intend to run it again next year. Also, we are looking to increase the number of London beers on the bar and would welcome any other London SIBA members to come and take part in the 2015 Festival'.
The Festival was run entirely by unpaid CAMRA volunteers.