Cains Brewery: Ajmail and Sudarghara Dusanj

Ajmail and Sudarghara Dusanj are hoping to toast success in their battle against the beer giants

Ajmail and Sudarghara Dusanj are planning a revolution in the humble British pub. Most beer served in UK locals are “mass produced, mass marketed with very little taste”, according to the brothers. Cains Brewery is earmarked to change all of that.

The Dusanjs bought Cains, a Liverpool-based brewery founded in 1850, in 2002 after embarking on varied entrepreneurial careers.

The duo started their working lives in the family’s fish and chip shop in Kent, garnering their entrepreneurial skills from their parents. They opened a small chain of fish and chip shops before raising enough capital to but Midlands soft drinks firm Gardner Shaw.

After turning the ailing company around, the brothers eyed a new challenge. After spotting a Times newspaper article that revealed that Cains was up for sale, they made their move, despite having now experience in brewing.

“When Cains came up for sale it was probably one of the biggest opportunities in the market in our lifetime,” explains Sudarghara. “We just thought ‘wow, we have to go for that.’

“Our parents hammered into us the lesson ‘if you do it properly, you’ll get it right.’ They are independent and like getting things done.

“Funding was straightforward and done by bank debt and personal borrowings against our homes.

“With the Cains Brewery we thought there was a large gap in the market place. There has been a huge consolidation between local brewers in the last 20 odd years, where the bigger breweries have got bigger and the smaller ones keep getting swallowed up.

“The bigger brewers involved in this globalisation are playing the quantity game and not the quality game. We are doing things the other way around.”

The brothers initially concentrated on growing the contact canning side of the business, expanding output from 28 million cans a year to 115 million cans a year. They then set their sight on the lager market by launching Cains Finest Lager.

“Our aim with Cains is to introduce the best tasting lager that Britain has had to offer in some time now,” says Sudarghara. “We want to create a point of difference in the market and show British lager drinkers what real lager should taste like.”

There have been difficulties in establishing Cains, not least the formidable competition posed by the large breweries.

“The large brewers in the UK dominate the marketing power and the money but also the distribution channels which they have purchased in making the business so big,” admits Sudarghara. “That’s the biggest challenge – getting through that cluster is so hard.

“When taking over Cains, we had to make some hard decisions and let some people go. If I could do it differently I would have made those kind of decisions a lot quicker and not leave it too long.”

Those decisions appear to have paid off -with a £35 million turnover and 80 staff, Cains is well placed to make a significant impact on palates of the British beer drinker.

Sudarghara, who cites Alan Sugar as his entrepreneurial inspiration, feels the UK is a good place to start up a business.

“I think in the last few years there has definitely been a change in attitude to make the country more entrepreneur-friendly. The UK is getting better at business like this.

“I think it’s more a social change rather than what is being done by the state. More and more people are saying ‘I wish I was in business, I don’t have to do nine to five.’

“More people are working harder but becoming more satisfied as they are working for themselves in a business they love.

“Have complete faith and never give up. That’s it.”

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