Published: 14th September 2023

true's journey with St Austell

true and St Austell's road to digital transformation

Richard McCloskey
Richard McCloskey - Managing Director
The original brief

When St Austell Brewery and true started their journey, back in 2019, the brand’s digital estate was spread across multiple platforms and involved several convoluted business processes.  

The initial brief, for true, was to act on St Austell’s entire digital estate. The brewery had recently gone through a large-scale re-branding project and the time was right to re-think the strategy for the business’ online presence and activities. true set about a strategic process to design a digital roadmap, prioritising key developments that would deliver a better customer experience as well as improved internal business efficiencies. 

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‘The Family Group’ and ‘Brewery’ pub sites 

The first component of the project was to re-platform The Family Group’s (corporate) and Brewery sites under Umbraco, allowing for a component-based approach that enabled consolidation and streamlining. 

Our focus quickly moved to the consumer. true were tasked with creating each of St Austell’s managed estate (over 30 pubs and inns) with individual websites. The requirements were significant, especially when considering the large revenue generated by these sites. Firstly, there was the need for each venue to manage their own room and table bookings. Next, the builds had to overcome the challenge of moving the sites onto the same platform, using the same components and approach to build, with a consistent look and feel alongside an efficient day-to-day management system. Finally, it was important to make admin access straightforward and intuitive for pub managers as well as the head office.  

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Progressing wholesale online  

Our relationship with St Austell continued to flourish and true were invited to work on digitalising the brewery’s product catalogue and transitioning this online. The process had been previously run by a team of sales reps through a catalogue, driving out to venues, running stock checks, with orders placed manually, face to face or over the phone. true undertook research extensive research at the ‘discovery’ stage of our process, which you can read more about here, which went on to shape how the site was structured designed and developed.  

This was a huge digital transformation project for the business from both a technical and cultural point of view. It was made possible by establishing a strategic roadmap over a three-year period where functionalities and improvement were gradually introduced.  

This transformation of the wholesale experience meant a vastly improved experience for customer, as well as the possibility to introduce new sales and marketing activities for the wholesale team such as merchandising and product promotion. The hub was created on its own Umbraco platform and went on to evolve from a quest form into a complete e-Commerce functional site, that went live in the summer ’22, with on-going continuous improvements planned in for the foreseeable future. 

The transformation has been a real success so far, clients are being on boarded gradually and the goal to reach 3000 individual customers over three years is on track. 

true are also working directly with the wholesale team towards increasing commercial performance by better understanding purchasing patterns, offering and merchandising product through analytics but also using the platform, Algolia, which was recently introduced. This offers product recommendations off the back of consumer behavior and events, for example – Guinness alongside Baileys during St Patrick's Day. Ultimately, inviting the consumers to consider product and offers that are relevant to the specificity of their business. 

Having reached the middle of a three-year roadmap cycle, the results have been proven strong so far and the platform has become a central revenue generating tool for the St Austell.  

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Expanding into the broader digital remit 

Since the re-development of St Austell’s digital estate, true is also supporting the business in various digital marketing programmes. This includes the promotion of direct booking for their accommodation aiming at diverting consumer to use Online Travel Agents such as or help grow the awareness of its beers in regions beyond the southwest.  

Going forward our goal is to keep supporting the business across all its online activities working with them on a clear digital strategy, and pushing to create an even better connected experience for customers. 

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Richard McCloskey
Richard McCloskey - Managing Director