Trade News – May 2021

2021 SIBA BUSINESS AWARDS

It’s good to have something to celebrate and three London breweries and a London restaurant were doing just that when they took home gongs at the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA)’s annual Business Awards event in March.

The awards are designed to showcase excellence across the beer and brewing industry by, to quote SIBA, ‘highlighting businesses who have not just survived but excelled during what has been quite possibly one of the toughest 12 months the brewing, beer and pubs sector has ever seen’.

Anspach & Hobday was the winner in the ‘Best Concept Design’ category for their Oktoberfest range and 40FT won the award for the UK’s ‘Best Independent Craft Brewery Taproom’.

The Hood, in Streatham, won the award for the ‘Best Independent Craft Beer Restaurant’. This award was for restaurants, bistros and gastropubs whose primary business is food but ‘who have shown an extraordinary commitment to serving the best quality and range of independent craft beers’.

Another London brewery, Signature Brew, won the ‘Marketing Implementation Award’, given for ‘all aspects of effective marketing and communication strategy’. They also received a Highly Commended in the ‘COVID Brewery Initiative Award’ category. This led to Signature achieving the top award: the ‘Brewery Business of the Year’. One of the founders, Tom Bott, said, “We’re incredibly humbled and thrilled to have won SIBA’s Brewery Business of the Year award for a second time. The last twelve months have been exceptionally turbulent and difficult for everyone in the industry and we couldn’t be prouder to work in a sector as resilient and innovative as the craft beer community. We’d like to say a huge thank you to our amazing team and our drinkers for their continued support. We can’t wait to see everyone for a pint very soon.” There is more about Signature Brew here.
Christine Cryne

CITY PUB GROUP

In an interview with the Morning Advertiser, the group’s executive chairman, Clive Watson, reported that the company is in relatively good shape coming out of the COVID restrictions. They made a loss of £5.1 million in 2020 against a profit of £5.3 million in 2019 but, in March 2020, the company raised £15 million from the issue of a tranche of new ordinary shares and have used the lockdown time to restructure their operation. He was particularly looking forward to welcoming larger parties of customers, 20 to 40 people, after 21 June, such events being a significant part of their business. They are still looking to expand, from their current 45 outlets to possibly up to 100 outlets. They have recently acquired a 49% stake in the Kensington Park Hotel and have increased their shareholding in the Mosaic Pub and Dining Group to 24%.

DRAFT HOUSE BRAND DISAPPEARS

The twelve strong chain of Draft House pubs, set up by Charlie McVeigh, were taken over by BrewDog back in the middle of 2018. Although it has taken some time, the pubs have now been rebranded as BrewDog outlets. The new names are listed in this edition’s WhatPub Update.

NEWLINE PUB CO

This new pub company is mentioned several times in this edition’s WhatPub Update. It is unusual in that it offers a variety of specialist services. They will take pubs on short term agreements, turn them around and help find long term operators. They can also help new publicans to establish their businesses, including setting up food offerings. In addition, they also offer a security service for closed pubs, ranging from live-in guards to boarding up and dealing with evictions and the removal of squatters.

PARCHED PUB COMPANY

When writing the item on Young’s below, I realised that I had not previously mentioned Parched before, although they have been around since 2015. The Grove House is their fifth pub. They have two in Peckham, the Montpelier and the White House, the Roebuck in the Borough and the Railway in Streatham, which was CAMRA South West London branch’s Pub of the Year in 2019.

REAL ALE DOT COM EXPANDS

The Twickenham based off-licence company, with branches in Notting Hill and Maida Vale, has changed its name to Real Drinks Ltd to reflect its expanding product range. There have been no other changes and Nick Dolan remains executive chairman. The company has also won a SIBA Business Award, that for the ‘UK’s best Independent Craft Beer Retailer – Multiple” so congratulations to them for that.

REDCAT PUB COMPANY

Well, I got that wrong. In the last edition I predicted that RedCat, Rooney Anand’s new project, would not be looking to buy pubs from the larger pub owning businesses. The first deal that they struck was for the 42 pubs that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) required Stonegate and Ei to sell following Stonegate’s takeover of Ei. Fifteen of these pubs are in Greater London, with, curiously, six of them in or near the North End Road in West London.

WETHERSPOON’S ‘APP’ WARNING

Although it is not compulsory, J D Wetherspoon prefer customers to order using their ‘app’. According to a report in the Bristol Post however, a problem has emerged. Some customers are accidentally selecting the wrong pub from the drop down menu so their food and drink orders are placed in a different pub. The guidance on JDW’s website is as follows, ‘Our app is designed to warn customers to check their location, if location services are enabled. The pub’s name appears at the top of the screen for the duration of the ordering process. For this reason, we reserve the right to refuse refunds on misplaced orders. In some instances, if the error is spotted immediately and the other pub is contacted before the drinks and/or food are prepared, the manager at that pub may offer a refund. However, that is at the discretion of the manager on duty at the pub where the order was mistakenly sent’. The website incidentally also includes a commendably clear privacy policy.

YOUNG’S

In early April, Young’s bought one pub and sold another. The purchase was the Greenwich Union, the former Meantime outlet in Royal Hill. It stands next to an existing Young’s house, the Richard the First, and the plan is to join the two buildings. The Greenwich Union’s garden was put to immediate use for the outside openings on 12 April. The pub sold was the Grove House in Camberwell. It has been sold to the Parched Pub Company.

The Grove House in Camberwell (Source: WhatPub)

To celebrate the outdoor reopening, Young’s commissioned a short film called A House is Not a Home. It celebrates the integral part that the pub plays in British life, with the message that ‘pubs, like homes, are so much more than just bricks and mortar’. You can find it on their website, or at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxFkO1rXJuQ.

DEPOSIT RETURN SCHEME

With the aim of ‘moving towards a more circular economy, where resources are kept in use for as long as possible and waste is minimised’, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has opened consultation on a deposit return scheme to encourage the recycling of the approximately 14 billion plastic drinks bottles, nine billion drinks cans and five billion glass bottles used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland each year. The Scottish Government has already produced its own plan. The scheme will operate alongside an ‘Extended Producer Responsibility’ policy under which producers (presumably including breweries) will be required to meet the costs of managing packaging waste and improved collection services for households and businesses. The earliest implementation date for the deposit return scheme would be late 2024. You can find more information here. The consultation closes on 4 June 2021.