Avery recognized World of Beer needed to adjust in order to stay ahead. In one example, it bailed on Asheville, North Carolina, a mountain town with a local-first heartbeat, as a possible location. Being a chain simply won’t work everywhere. But being a chain also has its perks. For World of Beer, Avery harnessed the company’s resources to widen its business model and appeal to customers in ways it hadn’t before. This multi-pronged process took time to mature, and the initiatives are starting to return in a significant way.
Six locations opened in 2017 for the 65-unit brand, which has stores in 20 states and three countries. Systemwide sales topped $100 million and at least 12 new units are expected for 2018, including fresh markets in Indianapolis; Owings Mill, Maryland; Tuscaloosa, Alabama; California; and Louisiana. Internationally, Avery sees three to four additional units in South Korea. World of Beer signed a deal in India, and there’s commitment from a Beijing partner to build 15. Shanghai also has plans to expand.
“We think World of Beer presents a significant growth vehicle for domestic and international development. We’ve defined the footprint, the investment level, and the unit economics,” Avery says.
Twenty-one of World of Beer’s 65 locations are company operated. This includes the acquisition of five franchised units in the last two quarters. In 2018, about 30 percent of World of Beer’s growth will be company financed.
As the new branding suggests, World of Beer has enacted widespread changes since Scott Zepp and Matt LaFon brought it to market in 2007.
“We continue to have more people enter the craft beer world. It’s become a very crowded field,” Avery says. “Craft beer has become quite ubiquitous in the industry. To be successful in the craft beer world you really need to lead with quality and innovation. And if you’re not leading with those attributes, you’re just not going to be around very long.”