The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has appointed a new chairman ahead of a structural shake-up that will merge the UK trade association's commercial arm with its main body.

SIBA members voted in Guy Sheppard at its AGM in Sheffield yesterday, the association said yesterday (13 March). Exe Valley Brewery owner Sheppard replaces Keith Bott, who is stepping down after his second stint at SIBA's helm.

Bott said: “I’m delighted to be handing the chairman’s baton to Guy, who has been a valued SIBA trustee for many years. He takes office at the start of a new, exciting chapter for SIBA and I am confident that he will do an excellent job.”

One of Sheppard's first tasks will be to oversee the combining of SIBA's commercial unit, which has operated as a separate entity since it was launched in 2002, with its core trade organisation services. The unit, of which Sheppard is a board member, posted sales of GBP12m (US$20m) last year, mainly because of the success of its Direct Delivery Scheme (DDS), which secures listings for local beers in pubs. Last year, DDS supplied SIBA members’ beers to about 2,400 pubs, and sales through the scheme increased by 24% by value.

Bott said: “SIBA is unusual ... among trade bodies, as having a thriving commercial arm in addition to our conventional trade association activities. Bringing these two aspects of the organisation together puts us in a far stronger position to move forward and help our members to thrive within a favourable political, commercial and social environment for British beer.”

Bott served as SIBA chairman from 2002 to 2006 and again from 2011 to 2014. A SIBA spokesperson said he will remain a SIBA member through his MD role at Titanic Brewery.

SIBA was part of the campaign that helped persuade the UK Government to abolish the duty escalator on beer last year. A campaign to do the same for wines and spirits in the country is heating up ahead of this month's Budget.