The Craft & Co opens expansion in Preston

Economies of scale have driven The Craft & Co’s recent expansion in Preston, Victoria, which includes a brewery, taphouse and distillery.

The business, which opened its first brewery and distillery in Collingwood in 2015, launched the Preston venue in order to scale production, according to founder Paul Baggio.

“The planning around expanding our capacity was to seek to make our beverages more price competitive, enabling all stakeholders in the production food-chain to gain a suitable margin that would underwrite a bigger brand strategy,” he explained.

“Only via achieving economies of scale in manufacturing, particularly with our expanding range of beers like our Japanese Rice Lager, would any business development be possible.”

Scaling production from the Collingwood brewery was challenging, Baggio explained, which led to finding a suitable space for a larger venue.

“As an old Thornbury boy having watched, since the early 70’s, surrounding suburbs such as Fairfield, Northcote, and having worked for years as a youngster in my own father’s factory in Preston, I got to closely observe the amazing gentrification occurring in these suburbs,” Baggio said.

“To say that today areas of Northcote, Preston and Reservoir are classified as cool is no understatement.

“To set up my new facility in Chifley Drive Preston was a no-brainer and for our new business to be just around the corner from where my father started his business of making artisanal wine presses and stills back in the 70’s, is such an ‘old boy come good returning back to his roots’ story indeed.”

Baggio is also the founder and managing director of FB*PROPAK, which has supplied equipment to many breweries, including the Craft & Co’s Collingwood brewery and now the Preston venue.

“[I] appreciate some brewers have sought angel or crowdfunding pathways yet sometimes decision making by committees like private equity or like partner funding could impose, not to even think of the legacy interests that crowdfunding could influence.

“It focused my thoughts to capital ownership to be retained within my hands.

It’s through this relationship that had FB*PROPAK leading the build design and construction, while offering vendor financing options.

“We certainly appreciated the hard work FB*PROPAK and their supply chain provided us in respects to some vendor financing options,” Baggio said via email.

Learn more about Paul Baggio and his work with FB*PROPAK in this episode of Beer is a Conversation.

The Craft & Co Preston started brewing in September last year, with the business launching three new beers including a Japanese Lager, in November last year.  

“Overall, having the breadth in production capacity with a very flexible sized brewhouse, designed to also enable grain wash for dark spirit production, have a range of stills and then be able to package across a diverse set of pack formats and packaging types, is where the magic is certainly at,” Baggio explained. 

The new Preston venue seats over 100 patrons and with the taproom sitting amongst the brewery, the focus will be on improving the customer “immersive” experience, as found in its Collingwood venue. 

“I have always loved that interconnectivity between consumer and producer, it was always what The Craft & Co was about when we started Collingwood and have just sought to expand on that belief with Preston,” Baggio said. 

“The Craft & Co in Collingwood continues to serve the business well, our first brewery and distillery remains and operates to provide us with suitable pilot and product development capacity. 

“The venue itself was one of the first craft brewery’s under construction in 2014 for Collingwood in over 100 years and one of the closest to the CBD, it proudly remains a Melbourne inner city watering hole and beverage icon.” 

The Craft & Co Preston is now open at 96 Chifley Drive, Preston, VIC.

Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.

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