Who knows of any retail collaborations between store managers and manufacturers?

There might be many reasons to argue that the leisure sector is behind that of retail (this recent guest column highlights some of them) but a recent collaboration run by pub chain Nicholson’s was truly innovative and I’m not sure if this sort of thing has ever been replicated in the retail sector.

The group plucked various managers from within its chain of 81 pubs – of which 45 are in London – and sent them off to various breweries around the country to create unique beers that would then be available exclusively in the company’s outlets during the summer months.

Off they went to eight brewers  including the likes of Sambooks in London’s Battersea, Roosters in Yorkshire and the Inveralmond Brewery in Perth, Scotland. The managers had extensive input into the brewing process – deciding on the bitterness levels and overall flavour characteristics of each beer as well as the ingredients selection, and vitally the name.

What they have come up with is a great selection of unique beers containing  hops from around the globe, unusual ingredients like Lavender honey, and various other elements that have contributed to creating a batch of very individual drinks. They reflect both the Nicholson’s store managers’ tastes as well as the breweries to which they were seconded.

Among the creations is Hawaii 340 from Cropton Brewery, Natural Beauty from Moor Beer Company, Sunshine and LolliHops from Thwaites, and Lavender Ale from Sambrooks.

The beers are available from June 11 for three months and I recommend giving them a try if you get the chance. But potentially, more importantly, retailers could maybe give this type of collaboration with manufacturers a go.

Not only does it help create unique products – an increasingly vital element of the industry – but it leads to great employee engagement. It’s a win-win you could say and we should all drink to that.