THE founder of an Edinburgh social enterprise which includes two bars has sold the business to another pub owner in the city for an undisclosed sum.
Chris Thewlis was described as the UK’s first social enterprise entrepreneur to make a viable exit from a firm in the sector with his sale of Beer For Good.
He has transferred his shares in the Community Interest Company, which had a £600,000 turnover last year, to Swedish businesspeople Mike and Anna Christopherson.
The couple already own six bars in the Scottish capital including Akva, Boda, Hemma and Joseph Pearce’s.
The Beer For Good portfolio, includes two pubs – the award-winning Harry’s Bar in the city’s west end and Harry’s Southside, and two cafes – Harry’s Courtyard Café at the Craiglockhart Leisure Centre and Harry’s On The Hill at Drumbrae Leisure Centre.
It is understood the firm will continue as a social enterprise.
Mr Thewlis said he has taken the decision to move on so he can focus more on the social enterprise security firm GTS Solutions.
“It was great fun creating Scotland’s first hospitality social enterprise group. It was a privilege to help the chain grow since its formation three years ago, delivering on our social mission to help improve people’s lives along the way.
“While very rewarding, it was incredibly time-consuming and with GTS Solutions taking up more and more of my time, and more exciting opportunities on the horizon, I felt this was the time to pass it on to someone else.”
He said: “GTS is the only social enterprise in the UK to operate in the private security industry, so we do man-guarding services and event services, supervisors, and we reinvest our profits into helping 18-25-year-olds in our employability programme called Securing Futures, which is Scotland’s most successful employability programme.”
Established six years ago by Mr Thewlis, GTS recently announced that its turnover had doubled to £1 million in the past year.
It is claimed the growth is forecast to hit £5m in the next three years, and the chief executive said he needs more time to devote to expansion.
Mr Thewlis was voted E2E’s Social Impact Entrepreneur of the Year at the recent Edinburgh awards event.
A mentor to Big Society Capital and board member of Social Enterprise Scotland, he said: “This deal shows that the CIC model works; that a viable exit from a social enterprise is possible if the proper groundwork is put in.
“The social enterprise sector is thriving in Scotland at the moment and we remain a world leader in the field.”