Find a blog post

Refine your search here


Licensed Trade Charity - Inspiring hope

On 08/07/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The Licensed Trade Charity supports people who work in both brewing and in pubs. It is the charity supported by the BBPA at our Annual Dinner. It has two aims; providing support and care for those who have worked in the licensed trade facing a difficult time; and running independent schools which aim to give children the best start in life. The charity is based in Ascot where it owns the LVS school and three years ago opened LVS Hassocks, which is a special school for those with autism and asperger’s syndrome. I had the privilege of visiting LVS Hassocks last week and seeing the inspirational help given to children who need special care.

The school at Hassocks was a Church of England priory. It has a chapel, now used as a library and a spiralling oast house which is used for music. It looks after some 75 children from juniors to 18 years olds who are young people with a diagnosis on the autistic spectrum and have associated social and communications difficulties.

The child, teacher ratio is high. All children have funding from a ‘statement’ and most are funded through their local authority which has a duty of care to ensure they are given the best education possible.
Whilst the recent educational emphasis has been on integration for those with disabilities, bullying of those less able, particularly if they have social difficulties often leads to a need for a special care. I cannot emphasise enough how impressed I was with the school and the care offered there.

Education here is not restricted to the classroom. The school has a veritable menagerie of animals from rats to a snake (I did not offer to handle either!); there are chickens, and opportunities to grow vegetables and herbs with qualifications to be gained from NVQs to apprenticeships.

Next year the Licensed Trade Charity will open a second specialist school near Oxford. Their aim is to enable those in their care to become successful learners, in charge of their learning: confident individuals in control of their feelings; and responsible citizens in control of their actions. The school offers work experience and are also interested in looking for volunteers for work placements. It is a great charity and one which we should all be keen to support.

For more information please go to

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


Please login to comment.

‘... and the Lord Mayor said: Let There Be Beer’

On 02/07/13 by Gareth Barrett

Whilst being located in the City of London gives the BBPA team a fantastic selection of pubs to choose from, the limited open spaces, and array of banking headquarters does not necessarily make it an obvious location for an open-air beer festival. This Thursday (from 3.30pm until 9pm), that all changes, when bankers, builders, brewers and the BBPA’s own beer lovers will join together to bibulate at the first City Beerfest outside the historic Guildhall.

With permission and encouragement from the Lord Mayor, and presented by the City of London Festival and the Worshipful Company of Brewers, the Guildhall Yard will be taken over by a celebration of beer in aid of the Lord Mayor’s Appeal. Bringing together a range of beers from BBPA members Fullers, Hall & Woodhouse, Theakston’s and Young’s – making this an experience for which we can all thank the Lord Mayor!

As the industry joins together to get behind Let There Be Beer, this is a great opportunity to show our appreciation for beer as a social lubricant, showing support for the work of the Brewers’ Company and also raising money for some fantastic charities.

If you find yourself in the City on the fourth, then like a (Young’s) Hummingbird you can flutter on by – or be taken in by the Old Peculier that is the Guildhall – this event demonstrating that even in the hub of the city a beer is something to be celebrated – trying something old or new – so we encourage you all to take in a London Pride, or build hunger for a Hopping Hare, let’s take up the Lord Mayor’s challenge, and Let There Be Beer in the City of London.

For more information and to get tickets please click here.

Gareth Barrett


Please login to comment.

Responsibility: military ID and this week's Home Office discussion

On 01/07/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

In 2011 for the first time, the Government announced that armed forces personnel could use their military identification as proof of age, which had not previously been allowed. The Ministry of Defence subsequently wrote to the BBPA asking for our support for Military ID to be accepted in pubs. The only rub in the ointment was the suggestion that we could not show licensees what the ID looked like as this might be a breach of military security. This seemed like an oxymoron to me – how could licensees know what military ID looked like if we could not publicise it! I visited the Ministry of Defence, but not much progress was made. At the Conservative Party spring conference last year I had a useful discussion with Liam Fox, the Secretary of State, but he was almost immediately re-shuffled and I had to wait until I met the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Andrew Robathan MP, at the Hanover Summer Party. Andrew Robathan completely understood our dilemma and when the revised Home Office False ID Guidance was published in July last year it contained sample images of Military ID allowing licensees to recognise what it looked like.

It was therefore with great pleasure that I visited the Westminster Arms last week and was joined by Andrew Robathan, now promoted to the Minister for the Armed Forces, (suitably surrounded by Spitfire beer!) to launch the new BBPA Challenge 21 posters in time for Armed Forces Day on Saturday.

The new posters include military ID as proof of age and can be either ordered or downloaded from our website. There is no doubt that pubs are hugely supportive of our armed forces and allowing soldier to use their military cards to prove that they are legally allowed to purchase alcohol, seems sensible and something we can all support. BBPA Challenge 21 posters now been around since 2006 and are a reminder to customers that if they look under 21 they may be asked to prove that they are over 18. They are widely used and recognised and the re-launched poster will therefore help to spread the message that military ID should be accepted.

This week I have been summoned to see the Home Secretary; the Rt. Hon Theresa May MP. The conversation will no doubt be about the forthcoming Government response to the Alcohol Strategy.

The Responsibility Deal will also be high on the agenda and I think the BBPA and our members have a good story to tell and not only about Challenge 21 preventing under-aged sales. I have no doubt that as a sector we will achieve the 80% required by the end of this year for packaging to display unit content, the Chief Medical Officer’s guidelines for lower risk consumption and warning on drinking whilst pregnant. The BBPA customer unit awareness initiative, developed with Drinkaware has been boosted recently with promotion from Sky and distribution to the 23,000 licensees who receive Sky Preview magazine. The billion unit reduction pledge and our support for partnership schemes at a local level are all very important too.

We expect the Government’s response to be announced before the summer recess on 18th July. Our theme is about partnership working and deregulation. We will, I expect, have a consultation on licensing fees, but even if local authorities are given more scope for setting their own fees, we would argue in favour of a national cap and an increase of no more than 10%. For many pubs outside town and city centres, what are you paying for to justify an annual fee? As ever we seek to reduce red tape and regulation allowing our pubs to invest and create more jobs.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


Please login to comment.

New research clearly shows the many benefits of pubwatch

On 26/06/13 by Jim Cathcart (Policy Manager - Pub Operations)

As the effective alternative to levies and EMROs, the BBPA supports a number of partnership initiatives. One of the most popular schemes in the pub sector is a local pubwatch – a voluntary group set up by licensees working together to promote a safe drinking environment, in partnership with the police and licensing authority.

However, whilst anecdotal evidence and the general perception in the trade suggested that pubwatches are effective, there had been little statistical work carried out to measure this across the country. With this in mind, National Pubwatch (the voluntary organisation set up to support existing pubwatch schemes and encourage the creation of new schemes) commissioned Leeds Metropolitan University to evaluate the effectiveness of pubwatches.

The headline findings from the report, which received over 1,100 responses, show that the vast majority of local authorities (76%), police (70%) and licensees (70%) believe pubwatch to be contributing to a safer drinking environment in the areas in which they operate.

Councils (71%) and police (67%) also point to a decrease in anti-social behaviour in the wider localities as a result of effective schemes and closer partnership working.

Surveys carried out by Leeds Metropolitan University also found that pubwatch led to closer and more effective partnership working between the licensed trade and key local partners. Licensees (87%), police (92%) and councils (91%) stated they would recommend joining or establishing a Pubwatch to other local licensees and authorities.

The chairman of National Pubwatch, Steve Baker, said: "It is very encouraging that so many local authorities and police, as well as licensees, acknowledge the positive work of Pubwatch. Close partnerships are vital to support local licensed premises and make sure that they are safe and appealing for local people".

With Hartlepool and now Northampton abandoning plans for an EMRO, it is hoped other police and local authorities (such as Blackpool) looking to bring in EMROs take notice of the results of the National Pubwatch research which clearly demonstrates a voluntary, effective and partnership-led way to create safe drinking environments in the pub trade.

Jim Cathcart
Policy Manager - Pub Operations


Please login to comment.

BBPA statistics - testing the temperature of the UK beer market

On 25/06/13 by Simon Goldrick (Policy & Information Officer)

BBPA statistics - testing the temperature of the UK beer market

In an increasingly challenging market, both commercially and politically, the need for accurate, reliable data and statistics is essential to success. As demonstrated by its wide use in The Sun’s ‘Axe the Beer Tax’ campaign, data from the BBPA and its members can persuasively make the case for economic policy and political action.

There are three main sources of industry data available, with which to analyse the UK beer market - market research companies, government statistics, and BBPA data. Worthy of note are the two main market research agencies CGA Strategy for on-trade data and Nielsen for the off-trade, both of which add value to industry information.

The BBPA collects data from member companies to produce a monthly Sales Volume Survey which is then distributed to members - and is also available to purchase. This covers both the on and off-trade categories, including ale, stout and lager (standard and premium strengths, draught, canned or bottled) as well as cask ale. We have recently added an executive briefing to this, which adds wider economic context and commentary to the results.

These monthly results are then incorporated into the publicly available Beer Barometer - a topline quarterly publication, which can be found alongside other statistics here. On an annual basis the BBPA publishes an Annual Barrelage Survey which covers the industry in more detail and is likewise available to BBPA members or is available to purchase. Excitingly the 2012 results were published on Tuesday. In addition, other statistics are provided to members, including quarterly export data and market forecasts, giving them an accurate industry context for members to compare their performance to.

For those who just can’t get enough of the stats... the BBPA also annually publishes the BBPA Statistical Handbook, a veritable bible for those who monitor the sector. This is the leading statistical publication in the industry and is now on its 39th edition. The 2013 edition will be published at the end of August, but in the meantime, you can always peruse the the 2011 and 2012 editions, which are available on our website.

If you have any statistical queries or would like to discuss BBPA statistics in more depth, please get in touch!

Simon Goldrick
Policy & Information Officer


Please login to comment.

Food waste – money down the drain

On 18/06/13 by Daisy Blench (Policy Manager - Responsibility)

Waste isn’t a sexy subject. In fact, sometimes, trying to engage pub operators in talking about waste is a bit like me trying to drum up some interest in a discussion about the complex rules of cricket.

But once you start talking about margins and profitability it suddenly all becomes more relevant. At a time when licensees are under more and more pressure, and when consumer spending is increasingly squeezed, it has never been more important to look at where to make savings and where to avoid waste.

WRAP, the Government’s waste reduction body, estimate that every tonne of food waste that a business produces costs it around £1,800 a year. Out of that waste, some is obviously unavoidable but a great deal isn’t and good waste management is therefore important to help businesses save money.

WRAP have recently published new research on out of home food waste. This shows that in pubs around a third of customers leave some of their meal on their plate and the majority of these believe that portion sizes are to blame for this. Whilst pubs are rightly known for being great value for money, reducing portion size slightly, having a range of meal sizes or asking customers if they need extra chips or vegetables rather than automatically providing them can be a good solution and can avoid unnecessary food waste. This short film shows the monetary cost of plate waste in a very effective visual way!

Plate waste is one area that pubs can tackle to improve efficiency and margins; however, before the food even leaves the kitchen there is an equally large opportunity to prevent waste. A good chef will already be trying to use ingredients as efficiently as possible but even they might have been surprised and inspired by the demonstration at the Unilever ‘United Against Waste’ event of cooking with leftover beetroot, herb stalks, fish skins and salmon bones. Although this might sound unappetising I can vouch for the fact that the end result was absolutely delicious!

Unilever have a variety of resources available to help make kitchens less wasteful and more profitable including a tool kit with tips and advice and a ‘Wise up on Waste’ app to help kitchens monitor and track food waste.

This week is Recycle Week and there will be a range of activities going on across the country to remind people of the need to ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’. With £722 million a year of possible food waste savings across the hospitality industry, it’s time for pubs to get involved and claim their share. Turn yourself into an expert on food waste and reap the rewards!

Daisy Blench
Policy Manager - Responsibility


Please login to comment.

Visit to Fullers by the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group and Save the Pub Group

On 17/06/13 by Brigid Simmonds (Chief Executive)

The All Party Parliamentary Beer Group (chaired by Andrew Griffiths MP) and the All Party Parliamentary Save the Pub Group (chaired by Greg Mulholland MP) visited Fullers brewery in Chiswick last week. Some sixteen MPs and two members of the House of Lords were there too, for what you might expect was a fascinating brewery tour and some very generous hospitality. The group comprised MPs, including the Shadow Business Minister, Toby Perkins; and Gavin Williamson who introduced the adjournment debate on the beer duty escalator.

Michael Turner as Chairman (celebrating 35 years with Fullers) and Simon Emeny as Group Managing Director (becoming CEO in 19 days time) both spoke about the history of Fuller, Smith and Turner and their values. Employing nearly 4,000 people, they have a long term focus; a culture of style over fashion; a passion for quality; premium products (both pubs and beer) and pride in their brands and people. They have 386 pubs, an estate which has grown by 70% in the last ten years, doubling the number of people they employ. Of these more than half (207) are tenanted pubs, tied for beer, wines and spirits.

They emphasised their tenants as business partners and how the tie offered a huge incentive to help tenants develop their business. Help comes in many forms: maintaining all dispense equipment; technical support; group purchasing deals; rating advice; wine, coffee and menu support, Fullers signage, capital investment (last year £1.8 million), free BII membership, mystery shoppers; business development managers and the offer of a variety of courses for training. As they pointed out, 80% of this is offered by all pub companies. The last 20% makes Fullers more competitive to attract the best tenants.

Simon Emeny talked about a number of free of tie leases in their managed estates – pubs which they rent from ‘faceless’ landlords and including three leases which have become commercially unviable since the recession. They have tried speaking to the landlord; they wanted help. However, there was no response, so sadly the pubs are now boarded up and 75 jobs were lost. There was simply no incentive for the landlord to help. The tied model he said gives the landlord (whether a pub company or family brewer) every incentive to help the tenant; the free of tie has no oversight, no support and will eventually lead to more closures like the three tied pubs that they have been forced to board up.

Fullers will create 300 new jobs this year, helped hugely by the cut in beer duty, but Simon Emeny hates to think how many jobs will be lost if companies like theirs stop supporting tenants with the tie. He ended with the statistics that Fullers had, in the last 10 years, sold 26 tenanted pubs as pubs; all went free of tie; only 7 are still trading.

As one would expect Greg Mulholland took issue with much of what was said and tried to drive a wedge between family brewers and pub companies, but all were united in watching the film of ‘It’s Better Down the Pub’; and with an excellent tutored beer tasting by Fuller’s respected Head Brewer, John Keeling, and wonderful, imaginative, pub food it was a very successful evening which showed the beer and pub sector at its best.

Brigid Simmonds
Chief Executive


Please login to comment.

Expanding the export market

On 14/06/13

Britain rightly has a global reputation for the quality of its beers and has been brewing beers to send around the world for centuries. India Pale Ales and Russian Imperial Stouts are some of the most famous beer styles designed for overseas markets. These are still brewed today for consumption in the UK and as part of the burgeoning export market.

To build on this great export history, the BBPA (along with BFBi) has begun working on a new ‘beer export strategy’ with the UK Government. Working with partners at UK Trade & Investment the industry has begun to identify key focus markets where significant growth can be achieved. Steps are also being taken to improve the amount of information available to brewers about overseas markets and to challenge trade barriers that are seen to hamper growth.

In 2012 around 6.5 million hectolitres (4 million barrels) of beer were sent for export from UK brewers, worth just short of £600 million. The volume of beer exported has more than quadrupled in twenty years. However, some of these ‘exports’ need to be taken with a pinch of salt, as they include movements between the UK and Ireland for packaging and some movements to the near Continent - brought back into the country by ‘booze cruisers’.

North America is the largest non-European destination for British brews, with more than one in five heading over to the US or Canada. Closer to home, Ireland, France and Belgium are our biggest trading partners – although the earlier ‘cruise’ caveat obviously applies here too. Italy, Spain and the Scandinavian countries also consume significant amounts of our beer. The growth nations of China, Russia and Brazil are currently only a tiny fraction of UK beer exports but there are ambitious plans to gain traction in these markets.

Expanding the scale and scope of UK beer exports is a critical step in demonstrating the industry’s commitment to growth in the UK. Following the abolition of the beer duty escalator and the one penny per pint reduction in tax, the industry needs to demonstrate it is contribution to economic growth.

The BBPA and BFBi are planning to launch the export strategy alongside the Government in the autumn of 2013, showcasing the best of British beer. If any brewers want to learn more about the work being done in this area please get in touch.


Please login to comment.

Beer culture

On 14/06/13 by David Wilson (Director of Public Affairs)

Stoke Newington, or ‘Stokey’ to the locals, is cool. Last weekend saw hundreds of trendy literary types converge on the bohemian Hackney urban village to enjoy a brilliant array of writers, journalists and cultural commentators plugging their books at the culmination of a week long literary festival billed as ‘eclectic, amusing and inspiring’ by festival director, Liz Vater.

Liz and her husband, the brilliant beer writer Pete Brown, are long term Stokey residents and beer and pub enthusiasts. As a result, beer was at the heart of the Festival’s appeal. Great beers, properly served, were available at most of the readings. Sponsors Budweiser Budvar provided a beer marquee outside the Stoke Newington Town Hall where ‘fringe’ music and poetry events took place all weekend.

A festival beer echoing the feminist theme of this year’s – ‘Mary Wollstonedraft’ brewed by the Redemption Brewery up the road in Tottenham – added to the enjoyment and further exemplified the integral link between beer and British culture.

Another Redemption beer ‘Trinity’ was served at a lively ‘London’s Brewing’ event in a Church Hall on the Saturday afternoon. Other smaller producers, led by Duncan Sambrook (a relative ‘veteran’ with five years brewing and trading history at his eponymous brewery in South West London), including Byron Knight from Beavertown Brewery, Ed Mason from start-up Five Points Brewery from Hackney Downs and Sam Smith from Stoke Newington based brewery with his ‘Stokey Brown’ beer brewed under a railway arch at Hackney Central, joined a panel with Pete Brown and journalist Will Hawkes, author of Craft Beer London.

Part brewery history, part tutored tasting, this sell-out event drew a young crowd of beer enthusiasts who would not have looked out of place in an Oregon craft beer convention and demonstrated the widening appeal of beer to a new generation of social drinkers. The explosion in beer styles, the rediscovery of London classics like porter and a willingness to experiment with new approaches, were all discussed. What struck me was the passion for their product and the commitment to quality that must be good for the whole beer category.

As Will Hawkes reiterated, this rediscovery and reappraisal of beer is part of a wider movement to value food and drink more in this country, a renewed focus on provenance and a passion for quality and craftsmanship that many of the smaller Stoke Newington independent shops are a testament to.

In these tough economic times ‘Stokey’ is leading the way and beer is at the heart of the regeneration.

David Wilson
Director of Public Affairs


Please login to comment.