Friday, 12 September 2008

Good Beer Guide launch

Supermarket discounts are
killing the British boozer

Astonishing statistics have been revealed by the 2009 Good Beer Guide to show just how supermarket discounts are hammering the embattled British pub. Supermarket beer prices have fallen by 1% in the past year while pub prices have increased by around 4%. Since 2002, off-trade beer prices have fallen by 7% while pub prices have increased by 24%.
In the guide, I argue that the government must act to stop this imbalance. The 36 pubs that close every week will become a much bigger figure unless action is taken. I believe the British government must follow the lead of the Scottish parliament that plans to introduce a minimum pricing policy for beer in the take-home market. To be effective, a unit of alcohol should cost between 35 and 40 pence -- at present it's just 26 pence in supermarkets.
As a result of the 10% beer duty increase in this year's Budget, prices in pubs have increased by 4.4% in the past year and the average price of a pub pint is now around £2.80. In contrast, prices in the off trade have fallen by a further 1% as a result of huge price promotions.
Following the Budget, one specialist off-trade chain, Bargain Booze, wrote to its suppliers and told them they must absorb the duty increase or the chain would refuse to deal with them. This shows the arm-lock that ruthless off-trade retailers have on the brewing industry.
*Sainsbury's: Foster's lager -- 3 cases of 440ml cans for £20. That's the equivalent of 57.4 pence a pint.
*Asda: John Smith's Smooth -- same price deal as for Foster's above.
*Morrisons: 24 cans of 440ml Stella Artois for £15.27 -- the equivalent of 77.9 pence a pint.
*Lidl: 8 cans of 440ml Carlsberg for £4.49 -- the equivalent of 56.9 pence a pint.
This is the economics of the mad house. Coors, brewers of Carling, have seen their profits halve in recent years. The reason is that the bulk of Carling's production is going to supermarkets, where it's sold cheaper than bottled water.
There's much talk of a British bank going bust as a result of global economic problems but there's equally the risk of a big brewer crashing. What is the point of brewing 2 million barrels of Carling a year if most of it is sold at cost?
Urgent action is needed to tackle the scandal of the supermarkets in order to save the traditional British pub.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Fatman said...

I supply Threshers and they refused to take the full duty increase this year. I found a compromise but still, if the chancellor thinks putting the duty up will increase the price paid at the till he is wrong.

But, and a big but, the chancellor is only marginally to blame for pub closures; the pub companies have had it heading their way for 20 years and much faster in the last 5 as they make it harder and harder for decent publicans to make a decent living. The industry as a result is left with a lower standard of landlord, and consequently a worse experience for the pub-goer. The pub co's and their bankers have a very unhealthy grip on the British pub business and will destroy it.

Lobby the enterprise and business select committee to break the tie and do it now. Make the pub profitable for individuals, not corporations - it's individuals that use and need them. Our heritage is going down the pan.....

12 September 2008 at 14:46  
Anonymous Ianto said...

"It's described by Britain's Foremost beer critic, Roger Protz as an amber beer with a superb aroma of biscuity malt, peppery hops and tart citrus fruit, making it an ideal accompaniment to pizza, smoked fish, spicy sausages and roasted vegetables". Sounds delicious.
This is the tasting note from the back label of ALDI's "Specially Selected XB English Ale". Made by Bateman's specifically for the supermarket chain.

Yeh - thats right ALDI.

I guess this is a different Aldi from the ones selling Stella 18x284ml for £8.99.

Way to big up the on-trade Roger!

16 September 2008 at 15:24  
Anonymous The Owl at Rodley said...

Hi Rodger,

My name is Steve & I am the bar manager / cellarman at The Owl Pub in Rodley, Leeds, West Yorkshire. It was originally a venture of my mothers, however when her partner did the dirty on her I had to step in and help with the beer side of things.

I have learned a lot over the past 18months being in charge of a cellar and running an incredibly successful beer festival (where we sold over 80 casks in a weekend!).

Anyway, the reasoning behind my response to this post is that I agree with what your saying; beer prices should be regulated at supermarkets soon before the pub trade goes under entirely...

However, there is another motivation behind the comment! Firstly, I must thank you for including my pub in this years guide. I attended the presentation from Leeds Camra down at the Midnight Bell (who I might add, deserved the award of most improved pub of the season). A slightly tipsy John Rowe made a point of congratulating the newest entry to the Guide as "The Rodley Barge" instead of "The Owl". I found this slightly insulting to be honest as The Barge have been in there for a number of years and I felt we could have done with the free publicity... Anyway, Rant Over and thanks for the inclusion...


Many Happy Returns

Steve from The Owl in Rodley

17 September 2008 at 16:25  

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