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2013 - a turning point for the industry

On 20/12/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

As featured in On-trade Review

I hope we look back on 2013 as a turning point for the industry. While trading conditions remain a challenge, we have had successes which put us in a far better place that we had dared to hope at the start of the year.

Let me begin with beer duty. There is no doubt that the abolition of the beer duty escalator, and the cut in beer duty in the March Budget was an astonishing success for all those who campaigned so tirelessly for many years. It was also a great tribute to joined-up campaigning in the trade, with huge support and expertise, not least from CAMRA, but from a large number of organisations and individuals in the supply chain who contributed to this success.

Let’s not forget the impact. The two per cent cut means that beer duty is now seven per cent lower than it was due to be this year. Furthermore, we face no automatic, above inflation increase in 2014. The challenge now and in 2014 is to keep campaigning, highlighting the benefits of the cut - on confidence, on investment, and on employment in the sector.

We are already doing just that. We have published a six month review of the positive impact, and have already begun a campaign for a duty freeze in the 2014 Budget. It is vital that the whole industry keeps up the pressure.

Maintaining volumes for beer in the home market remains a challenge, especially in the on-trade. However, we are now witnessing unprecedented investment in the beer category as a whole, with the Launch of the Let There Be Beer campaign.

Let There Be Beer, with its TV advertising and high-profile campaign, is one of the most significant investments in British beer in many decades. Opportunities for on-trade participation in the campaign will grow, and I believe that by 2014 will see the campaign bringing real benefits to the whole beer category.

At the BBPA, we have also worked hard to position beer and pubs at the heart of the UK tourism offer – with considerable success this year, with the launch of the Pubs are GREAT, and Heritage is Great strands of the high-impact Britain is GREAT campaign – the latter now features British beers in its poster campaign.

On pubs, there is now a different mood in Government when it comes to seeing the trade as central to the UK tourism industry, both in terms of attracting overseas visitors, and seeing pubs as central to the domestic tourism trade. In 2013, we should see the full impact, as this campaign gathers pace.

Despite the challenges, the pub trade is seeing other really positive developments. The focus on professionalism and training is something I see as key to future success. UK plc needs more apprenticeships and a step change in attitudes when it comes to seeing work in the pub trade as a highly-skilled career choice. The Government is aware of the need for action and we will see more positive partnerships when it comes to establishing these opportunities in the trade.

Of course. we will continue to face challenges in 2014, when it comes to attempts to over-regulate the trade. The Government’s localism agenda, while a good thing in itself, was always going to raise issues, in terms of local authorities and police forces attempting to over-regulate their local pub trade, often to the detriment of local economies as well as the trade itself.

In 2014, we will continue to oppose individual authorities in the efforts to implement costly late night levies and early morning restriction orders. There is currently a mixed picture. While there is no doubt considerable interest in using these new measures, many authorities are retreating from the proposals once they realise the damaging effect they can have on local businesses – often thanks to well argued interventions from the trade, putting the arguments forward on a case-by-case basis.

To resist moves in this direction, we will also have to step up to the plate when it comes to partnership working. We must work hard to persuade local authorities that this is the best way to improve town centres.

Despite these challenges, I am optimistic. The Government has made significant moves to improve confidence in the trade. The pubs minister, Brandon Lewis, has proved receptive to our concerns. With competing priorities within Government, he won’t win every battle, but he is someone who can successfully champion pubs. He has also now taken on responsibility for the Government’s policies in relation to the renewal of our high streets. This is an area where pubs can and should play a crucial role, and it is all to the good that these responsibilities are now being brought together.

There is much to look forward to in 2014.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Seven beers for seven breakfasts

On 10/12/13

Guest Blog from Dea Latis

Dea Latis, the women and beer group held its second Beers with Breakfast event last week in a seven-beer hair-of-the-dog morning session at the Somers Town Coffee House in London.

The female gathering of journalists, bloggers, brewers and marketeers assembled to test their taste buds alongside the delicious breakfast menu at the Yummy Pub Co owned pub in Chalton Street near Euston.

Beer sommelier, Jane Peyton, was guest speaker for the group and offered her impassioned plea to women to consider the UK’s national drink as regular a drink of choice.

There was no need to persuade the hungry group of tasters of the merits of beer as Beer Sommelier Annabel Smith began her tutored tasting and everyone got stuck in.

Over the next 90 minutes they quaffed, nibbled, deliberated, Tweeted, snapped and scribbled through seven beers - kindly donated by each of the brewers - and the accompanying breakfast courses in true multi-tasking style.

The menu began with a poached egg and smoked salmon with Hollandaise drizzle on a toasted muffin served with St Austell Brewery’s 4.8% abv Clouded Yellow beer and ended with a Wells and Young’s 5.2% abv Double Chocolate Stout served with pancakes with chocolate sauce and blueberries. (See the full menu below.)

At the end of the tasting the unanimous winner was the eggs and smoked salmon with Hollandaise dish which beautifully complemented the citrusy notes of St Austell Brewery’s Clouded Yellow beer.

Lisa Harlow, who helped to organise the event with Ros Shiel and Annabel Smith, said: “At the end of a fantastic year for beer – and a year where there are more women brewing and drinking beer than ever before* – this was a wonderful cross-industry celebration of our versatile, varied and flavoursome UK brews. It was great that we could highlight that different styles of beers will go with just about anything – even breakfast!”

*Women trying real ale for the first time has grown from 14% to 34% in the last three years. CAMRA, August 2013

The seven beers with seven breakfasts menu

With thanks to all the brewers who donated and delivered the beers and to Anthony and the crew at Somers Town Coffee House, the full beer and food menu was as follows:

  • Poached Egg and Smoked Salmon with Hollandaise Drizzle served with St Austell Brewery’s Clouded Yellow 4.8% (from St Austell Brewery in Cornwall)
  • Crispy Smoked Bacon with a herby grilled tomato served with Freedom Pilsner Lager 5% (from Abbots Bromley in Staffordshire)
  • Bombardier Rarebit Crumpet served with Wells and Young’s Bombardier 4.1% (from Bedford)
  • Black Pudding and Apple Crisp served with Timothy Taylors Landlord 4.1% (from Keighley in West Yorkshire)
  • Chilli Avocado on French Toast served with Thwaites Wainwright 4.1% (from Blackburn in Lancashire)
  • Banana and Strawberry Smoothie served with Wells and Young’s Banana Bread Beer 5.2% (from Bedford)
  • Pancakes with Chocolate Sauce and Blueberries served with Wells and Young’s Chocolate Stout 5.2% (from Bedford)

For more information go to: or follow them on Twitter @DeaLatis or like them on Facebook at /DeaLatis.


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An Autumnal boost for Britain's pubs

On 06/12/13

Yesterday saw the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, though the weather was of course showing signs that Winter had well and truly begun. Amongst the various forecasts on debt and deficit, growth and employment, all important to the beer and pub sector, were a number of announcements that affected our industry.

For a sector that has grown accustomed to cowering in fear whenever successive Chancellors have stood up to speak, these could be nervy times. However, there now seems to be a degree of confidence around. The winds of change have swept through Parliament and pubs are now seen as an important part of the economy, helping to deliver growth and jobs.

Many of the announcements had already been trailed in the press and it was clear that something was planned for business rates. The BBPA has been campaigning for some time on rates, arguing that the cost to pubs was growing, and becoming unsustainable. Over the last couple of months this has been enshrined in the Better Rates for Pubs campaign, bringing together a coalition of interested parties.

The first key aim of the campaign, the extension of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) was duly delivered. This discount will now be available to pubs up to April 2014. As the name suggests, this only applies to those at the lower end, a 100 per cent discount for pubs with a rateable value of £6,000 and below, tapering to nothing at £12,000. This is worth up to £27 million to the pub trade.

More positive news came on rates with a 'cap' being placed on the rate at which the overall tax level went up. It had been due to increase by the retail price index (RPI), 3.2%, but instead went up by just 2%. This meant a £17 million reduction on the expected level for pubs.

The third element on rates was more unexpected. The Autumn Statement announced that Government would 'provide additional support to the retail sector through a business rates discount of up to £1,000 in 2014-15 and 2015-16 for retail properties (including pubs, cafes, restaurants and charity shops) with a rateable value of up to £50,000, and a 50% discount from business rates for new occupants of previously empty retail premises for 18 months'. Though it's still slightly unclear how this will work it is a massive boost to the bottom line of about 38,000 pubs. The relief for empty buildings removes a significant barrier to reopening pubs that lie dormant.

There was also a significant boost in terms of employment. The Government committed to remove national insurance contributions for employees below the age of 21. This is likely to benefit the pub sector, which already has in excess of 200,000 staff below this age, through lower costs. But it also opens up more opportunities for young people to get into the pub industry, and learn the valuable skills this industry can offer.

Other measures were announced affecting our industry. Moves to tackle alcohol duty fraud were confirmed, which will help to prevent fraudsters undercutting the legitimate trade. A ban on below-cost-selling was also included in the document, ensuring the cheapest products are taken off of shelves. There was further commitment to building exports and supporting the GREAT campaign, that will build the tourism industry.

All in all, the Autumn Statement delivered for the pub trade in some key areas. A Treasury graphic after the speech was delivered estimated the tax cut to pubs to be around 4.7%. The aforementioned growth and figures were also positive. An upturn in the economy should provide a much-needed boost in consumer spending that must help pubs.

But this was just a warm-up for the main event. For the Government to truly show its determination to help Britain's beer drinkers and pub-goers, licensees across the country and Britain's historic brewers then more action needs to be taken on beer duty. The weather is giving a hint George, a freeze is in order.


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Beer Serves Europe IV

On 06/12/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

For the fourth year running, the Brewers of Europe(BoE) hosted 'Beer Serves Europe' in Brussels. This year the theme was economy and beer. It marked the launch of the EY report 'The Contribution made by Beer to the European Economy' and also a positive piece of research from the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) 'The European Beer Industry; incentivising the growth potential'. Following speeches from the President of the Brewers of Europe and the EESC, I was invited to sit on the panel for an hour's discussion.

The EY report found that beer supports 2 million jobs, representing 1% of all jobs in the EU. I was able to talk about the importance of the supply chain. In Europe one job in brewing creates one job in agriculture, one in packaging and logistics, one in marketing, one in retail and 11 in hospitality. As we are the only association within BoE who represents the on-trade as well as producers; the link with pubs in the UK was clear. The EESC recommended that EU states work to create a 'predictable and stable tax regime' for beer, which linked well with our economic arguments in favour of a further beer duty freeze..

On the panel was Dana Bachmann from DG Education and Culture. She was promoting the European Alliance on Apprenticeships and is keen for small and large organisations to pledge their support. It gave me an opportunity to talk about the interest in training in the UK - the Mums factor - and specifically that you can be running your own business by the time you are 25 with training provided for all levels and even the potential for a degree.

Salvatore D'Acunto is from DG Enterprise and is responsible for TTIP and the negotiations between the EU and US on import and export tariffs. I explained the discrepancy between US small brewers who benefit from EU small brewer relief, but that the reduction in the US for small brewers from $18 to $7 is not offered to their counterparts from the EU. He was keen to support.

Edwin Calleja from Malta was one of the co-authors of the EESC report. He was very supportive of my call for all EU states to recognise the contribution of the beer sector to their own economy and provide support. He was very surprised when I talked about the 42% increase we had in beer duty over 4 years and was certainly supportive of a continued tax freeze. We discussed the contribution of brewers to the environment; anaerobic digestion; climate change agreements; water saving and energy.

The debate ended with a look to the future. I promoted beer as low strength; a drink of choice; our Let There Be Beer campaign and the employment opportunities we offer. Kim Evenpoel a journalist from the Belgium equivalent of the FT saw the continued strength of our industry, but like us all clearly saw the continued challenges too.

The EESC opinion on "Incentivising the growth potential of the European beer industry" is available to view here

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Experience the benefits of Pubwatch

On 27/11/13

Guest blog from National Pubwatch Chairman, Steve Baker

Next year’s National Pubwatch Conference ‘Protect and promote your Pubwatch through partnership working’ will be held at the Palace Hotel, Oxford Street, Manchester, on the 18th February next year.

Pubwatch has a proven track record of bringing together the pub and hospitality sector, enforcement agencies and other stakeholders to work effectively at reducing the problems associated with alcohol and violence. It is probably one of the most effective ways of protecting your assets, staff and customers from the threat posed by the small minority of people who can cause real damage to the reputation of the pub trade.

The Pubwatch movement gives the pub and hospitality sector a very real opportunity to demonstrate its social responsibility credentials and the impact that it can make on crime and disorder, not just in pubs and bars but in the wider area. An independent research project carried out on behalf of National Pubwatch by Leeds Metropolitan University in 2012/13 showed that over 85% of licensees joined their local Pubwatch scheme to:

  • Help create a safer environment in their local area.
  • Build/improve relationships with local agencies such as police and representatives from the council’s licensing department.
  • Network with other licensees who are members of their local scheme.

Once licensees had joined their scheme, 87% stated they would recommend it to others and importantly this view was supported by the Police and Local Authority stakeholders with 91% and 92% respectively stating they would recommend the scheme to other police and LA’s. The role of National Pubwatch was seen as a central part of the overall Pubwatch movement with over 90% of stakeholders championing their advisory role for new and existing Pubwatch schemes in addition to their voice on issues of crime and violence.

So how can you help and benefit from this national movement and really demonstrate your commitment to social responsibility? Well for a start you could make a meaningful pledge to support the work of National Pubwatch by joining existing sponsors such as JD Wetherspoon, Stonegate and BBPA who already see the advantages of Pubwatch membership. Secondly, you could support your workforce (Managers, Area Managers, Risk Managers etc.) by giving them the time to find out more about how they can participate in a successful local Pubwatch scheme by attending the NPW conference at the Palace Hotel Manchester - 18 February 2014.

The conference concentrates on two main themes – how to run a successful Pubwatch, including how to protect your Pubwatch from legal challenges and other threats; and how engaging in partnership working helps promote your business as part of a safe and vibrant late night economy. A series of workshops throughout the day will explore these themes and provide a forum for discussion and debate.

We pride ourselves on providing delegates with a great experience and value for money, plus the opportunity to meet other Pubwatch representatives from around the country and share ideas and good practice. There will also be a ‘surgery’ where National Pubwatch representatives will be on hand to answer queries and give advice relating to local watches.

To see the draft conference programme, location details and to register visit:


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The Best of British – Celebrating the Great Campaign

On 26/11/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

When an invitation arrives on your desk to be a guest of Her Majesty’s Government in the Locarno Suite at the Foreign Office, you are certainly keen to go. Dating back to 1868 and designed by George Gilbert Scott, the Locarno Suite has recently been completely restored and is truly magnificent. Last night we were there to be thanked for our part in supporting the GREAT campaign.

When Ed Vaizey MP the Culture Minister stood to speak and apologise that Maria Miller the Secretary of State was unable to preside over proceedings, I was rather disappointed, but he then introduced what he described as two important guests: the Prime Minister and Jools Holland!

The Prime Minister began by saying that whether you saw Prince Harry on the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain or David Beckham supporting the campaign from around the world; the word ‘Great’ was clearly now back into Britain. The campaign has clearly helped the UK to export goods and services around the world and when you find that curry is being exported from Anglesey to India, you realise just what we as a country can do. He thanked all the partners who had made such a difference; the sports starts who helped promote the campaign; he talked about going to Calcutta to back promoting Britain and how heritage, innovation, knowledge, history, shopping, culture and entrepreneurship single us out as a nation. After a quip that normally the Chancellor made all funding announcements, but that actually he was the 2nd Secretary to the Treasury; the Prime Minister being the first; he then went onto announce that funding for the GREAT campaign has been extended for 2 years until 2016.

To celebrate that Music is GREAT, we were then entertained by two songs by Jools Holland and as a friend of mine remarked as we were leaving, I only wish I could play like that!

Whilst they were not serving beer, I discussed our Pubs are GREAT and Heritage is GREAT (for beer), with Number 10 and VisitBritain. We are certainly one of the more popular posters used around the world and pubs remain number three on the list of places to visit for overseas visitors coming to the UK.

On a personal note Sir Robin Knox-Johnston with whom I used to sit on the Board of Sport England was there, flying off to Australia today to see his Clipper fleet and expecting to take part in the Sydney to Hobart race on Boxing Day! He is 74 and I told him that I would be very proud if I was still sailing at his age – his reply – I am sure you will be!

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


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Winter’s coming... don't slip up!

On 22/11/13 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

The prospect of attempting an accurate weather forecast at this time of year makes me feel about as grim as the weather itself! The most reliable technique seems to be just looking out of the window… However, despite cautioning about the inaccuracies of predicting longer term weather patterns, there seems to be a lot of hype that we will be facing post-apocalyptic, cold and snowy conditions between now and February!

Post -apocalyptic or not, one thing that we can all be sure of is the inevitability of winter and the various hazards that this entails. Slips, trips and falls are the most common workplace accident and no less so than during the latter part of the year. Less daylight and the build-up of wet and slippery leaves as well as ice and snow can make roads and walkways about as treacherous as an Andean mountain path! However, always remember that employers and site owners have a duty of care, not just to their own staff but to anyone who accesses their site, meaning that now is the perfect time to ensure that appropriate measures to protect staff and visitors alike are in place.

First thing’s first, check the lighting conditions around your site or pub. Is this sufficient for visitors or staff to see and avoid hazards at ground level? If necessary, improving lighting doesn't have to mean installing new ones and is more likely to be a case of replacing dead bulbs or even changing the type normally used. If lights are timed then check that these are set correctly. If new lights are needed make sure that these are fit for purpose and situated so as to evenly and clearly illuminate all walkways and paths.

Now that the lighting is sorted, make sure that all paths and walkways are clear of obstructions. During the autumn wet leaves and puddles can be treacherous. Piles of soggy leaves can become slippery as they decay and can also hide hazards such as uneven paving slabs or holes and uneven surfaces. According to the HSE, most slips occur at building entrances where people enter a site with wet shoes. Again, solutions are not always expensive and whilst installing an entrance canopy may be ideal, clearing immediate hazards and the use of absorbent mats will offer a greater degree of protection against slips.

Ultimately, perhaps the greatest seasonal challenge to employers is from ice and snow. At this time of year such conditions are unpredictable but employers must have a system in place to assess and manage this risk and now is the time to make sure that this is ready.

Start by identifying those outdoor areas used by pedestrians most likely to be affected by ice, for example: - building entrances, car parks, pedestrian walkways, shortcuts, sloped areas and areas constantly in the shade or wet. In terms of preventing hazards caused by the build-up of ice and snow, proactivity is key. Grit and salt will work on contact but are far more effective when ground into the surface. Monitor weather services for early signs of icy conditions or snow to allow time to prepare paths and walkways to prevent icy surfaces from forming. However, preventing build-up of ice may be difficult as winter progresses so regularly assess where paths and walkways are worst affected by such conditions and use cones or barriers to divert people to paths that are less icy.

Health and safety may at times seem like an endless task but it is vitally important to the wellbeing of staff and visitors alike and in turn is a fundamental part of the duty of care that employers hold. So with autumn well and truly established and winter on the way, take some time and consider some of the steps above to make sure that everyone who accesses your brewery or pub can do so without incident...oh, and...stay safe out there!

Steve Livens
Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain


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Tourism and Growth

On 22/11/13 by Simon Goldrick (Policy & Information Officer)

Whilst many will talk about the economic importance of the car manufacturing industry, worth over £21billion a year to British exports, it pales in comparison to the vital importance of tourism to the UK economy, as clearly presented in a new report by VisitBritain. Launched yesterday ‘Tourism: jobs and growth’, produced by Deloitte and Oxford Economics, forecasts the industry to grow from £127bn a year to £257bn by 2025. This is a huge 102%, more than doubling in size in just over a decade.

The launch was well attended, with the report being introduced by Helen Grant MP, the new Minister for Tourism, who acknowledged her support of the industry and spoke eloquently on the Government’s backing for British tourism.

Tourism is hugely valuable to UK pubs – a third of international tourists have ‘the pub’ on their itineraries. Two areas in the report particularly stood out as relevant to pubs.

The report highlighted the huge importance of technology. The internet is the first port of call for an ever-growing number of tourists planning their holidays. Businesses of all sizes have to be able to promote themselves and complete on an international scale and pubs are no exception.

This links to the growing importance of international tourists, the driving force behind the huge potential growth. This was highlighted by the news today that Fuller’s Kings Cross pub, the Parcel Yard, was their best performing outlet for cask ale sales. It cannot be a coincidence that it situated less than one minute from the famous platform 9 & ¾!

The report in full can be found at online at VisitBritain.

Simon Goldrick
Policy & Information Officer


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Drunken Nights Out - a new approach

On 22/11/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Drinkaware held a brainstorming session this week on ‘Drunken Nights Out’ which brought together representatives from the Home Office, the police, the drinks industry, retailers, media and the creative industries to discuss the issues and generate new ideas to reduce harm resulting from binge drinking and public drunkenness in the night time economy.

The event followed on from a call for evidence on binge drinking as part of a research report that Drinkaware have commissioned to look at the problems and potential solutions.

It was quite refreshing to be at an event where people assumed that retailers are responsible and want to work in partnership to tackle problems in the night time economy. All too often nationally and in the media there is an assumption that pubs and bars seek to promote irresponsible behaviour. It can be extremely frustrating to go to meetings or read articles that seem to assume that the alcohol industry wants people to get drunk and behave badly. As any good licensee will tell you they want their pub to be open and welcoming to all and not have potential customers put off by drunken and offensive behaviour.

There were good discussions and ideas around dis-incentivising bad behaviour and encouraging young people to know their limits. One suggestion was to give out bananas outside clubs as people feel too silly to get into fights with a banana in their hand!

However, for me by far the most interesting part of the day was the recognition that for a relatively small number of young people the experience of going out at night was all about going over their limits and breaking the rules and therefore such initiatives may have little effect. A lot of people like to socialise and have a few drinks and some might even overindulge once in a while but the specific intention to go out and get drunk as the aim not a potential consequence of an evening seems to be a very different phenomenon.

Not a new observation by any means but a key question still seems to be why these young people felt they couldn’t get the same enjoyment and experiences in any other way and how to convince them otherwise?

It remains very important to keep these things in context and remember that national trends are all going in the right direction with overall alcohol consumption down 16% since 2004 and alcohol related crime down 23% since 2003. ‘Binge drinking’ has fallen dramatically for both men and women since 2005 – although the current definition of binge drinking (more than 8 units per day for men, and 6 for women) does not really fit with the type of drinking patterns that the day was attempting to address. It will be difficult to come up with the right solutions whilst Government and others are measuring and labelling something completely different.

It is also important to remember that the vast majority drink responsibly and therefore policies and legislation shouldn’t seek to limit or restrict enjoyment for all.

However, this remains an important issue to tackle and there were some interesting themes from the day which will need developing, not least how to influence individual behaviours alongside partnership working within communities to promote a safe and social night time economy.

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


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