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Pubs toast World Cup and long hot summer for beer sales rise

By John Corser | Business | Published:

The troubles of the pub industry are well-known – but a warm summer and the best English World Cup run in almost 30 years have help put some fizz back into beer sales.

England fans watch the match against Sweden at the George Wallis pub in Wolverhampton

The Three Lions' unexpected run to the World Cup semi-finals in Russia saw pubs showing the games packed and sales of bottled and canned ales from supermarkets and off-licences soaring.

For the third quarter, British beer sales were bumped up by 4.4 per cent.

Of course, many breweries celebrated the tournament by making special themed beers – such as Let's Get Kane'd, made by AJ's Ales, which exceeded expectations.

Andy Jukes, of AJ's Ales, said that sales of his two World Cup special cask ales had exceeded all expectations.

"Our five per cent pale ale Let's Get Kane'd was the best selling guest ale we have ever done," he said.

"We normally only do one brew, but Let's Get Kane'd and our 6.6 per cent ale Route 66 were quickly snapped up by pubs and we had to do more."

The brewery in Long Acre Street, Walsall, saw demand for Let's Get Kane'd remain high throughout the tournament.

"We did five brews in the end and sold nearly 100 casks. It was a great boost for our business.

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"We are now doing two Christmas guest ales – Stuck up the Chimney, a four percenter, and Rudolf Rainbeer, five per cent. Sales of those are going great as well. We'll also be featuring them at our open day on December 15," said Andy, who started his business four years ago.

John Russell, managing director of Bishop's Castle-based Three Tuns Brewery, agreed that the summer had helped beer-makers.

"The market continues to be challenging and the last 12 months have been characterised by unusually high volatility," he said.

"The last Christmas season was impacted by an unusually long snowy spell, but this was then compensated by a longer sunnier summer and a very pleasing World Cup campaign in Russia.

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"Highly volatile commodity markets, notably oil and diesel and the on going uncertainty from Brexit have all made forecasting and planning tricky.

"Three Tuns Brewery has benefitted in the calendar year from upgraded capacity and equipment, an increase in its main product line XXX and a positive growth in its bottled beer range following a commitment to absolute premium quality and limited supply.

"All has resulted in a four per cent year-on-year growth consistent with wider market trends.

"The pub sector remains highly challenged, but it has been a relief to see duty rates frozen and a reduction in business rates ahead in the next calendar year."

The hot summer also helped sales nationally with third quarter beer volumes up 0.9 per cent, according to data from the British Beer and Pub Association. Supermarkets and off-licences saw beer sales rise by 7.6 per cent on the same period last year.

Pub and brewery group Marston's, which employs about 14,300 people, was helped by England's successful run and the scorching weather.

Chief executive Ralph Findlay said Marston's wet-led pubs saw a 57 per cent surge in customers when England matches were on.

Marston’s Beer Company sold 61 per cent more beer than last year in the period covering the World Cup

Lidl supermarkets experienced the highest numbers of shoppers ever outside the Christmas period during the World Cup.

The Second busiest day in the chain’s history was on June 30 with customers up 12 per cent on the same day in 2017.

John Corser

By John Corser
Business Reporter - @JohnCorser_Star

Express & Star business reporter at head office, Wolverhampton. Welcomes all news of companies and business organisations.

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