Hopmaster – helping with refurbishing costs

When iwoca customer Gavin Wooding realised he couldn’t get a decent pint in his new town, he decided it was time to brew up something special.

20 February 2020

Gavin Wooding is the proud owner of Hopmaster pubs. For him, his venture was born not just of a passion for great beer but out of necessity.

“When I first moved to Rushden,” says Gavin. “One of the first things I realised was that I couldn’t go anywhere for a decent beer. It was so frustrating. I used to have to buy beer online.”

Located in Rushden, Northamptonshire, Hopmaster is proud to serve a huge selection of craft beers with no corner cut when it comes to quality or customer service. Their beer is stored at a frosty 4 degrees, with ultra short lines that keep it at perfect temperature from pipe to pint. To put it lightly, Hopmaster is a pub that takes beer rather seriously.

Before Hopmaster, Gavin had worked in IT for 20 years and while the money was good, it didn’t inspire him like running his own business does.

“I was a senior business analyst working in business transformation," he says. "My job was to take old processes and replace them with modern, new processes. It just wasn’t interesting for me anymore.”

After visiting some friends who also shared his passion for good beer, Gavin began to realise that nobody else was going to fill this gap in the market, and in December 2016 began putting his master plan into action.

How iwoca helped Hopmaster grow

iwoca helped Gavin grow his business by spreading the cost of opening his first venue. This included:

  • Refitting and refurbishing costs
  • Paying contractors
  • Helping cover unexpected costs
  • Freeing up money to help manage cash flow

“iwoca’s funding freed up a little bit of money at the beginning to help manage our cashflow,” says Gavin. “It allowed us to spread the cost of the build and ensure the longevity of the business.”

“The application was incredibly easy. I had a nice, welcoming introduction from my account manager and end to end it only took about 24 hours to get the money.”

A place to call home

Gavin eventually settled on the town’s disused Post Office as the home for his first venue.

“It’s quite small, it seats around 45,” Gavin says. “It’s been great bringing an old building back to life with a new form of business. What we’re doing is a little niche, it’s not the traditional pub style.”

Gavin was sure to build his business on solid foundations and to this day holds a number of core values close to his heart. To name a few – quality, locally sourced products, great customer service and a friendly atmosphere for people and dogs alike.

“We’re really trying to push our events at the moment. There isn’t really anywhere else doing live music and we run Meet the Brewer nights, Home Brew Club, pool competitions and more. I guess what we’re trying to do is become a community hub.”

A glass half full

After his first venue was so successful, Gavin looked to open a second. Rushden Lakes seemed perfect – a newly built retail park that combines the best of local eating out and shopping.

“There’s a great range of restaurants here but there was no bar or pub before us,” says Gavin. “We’ve basically scaled up what we did at our first venue and it’s worked really well – we have 24 beer lines which gives customers an amazing choice. We’re always keen to guide customers through the menu and offer samples because we have some weird and wonderful stuff on!”

“In two to three years from now, I’d like to be opening a third venue and I guess my 10-year plan is to have a chain of Hopmaster’s across the country. That would be fantastic.”

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Dan is part of the content team at iwoca. He writes articles explaining financial topics, as well as guides on the best support for small businesses during coronavirus.

Article updated on: 24 February 2020

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