Tough Trading Conditions and Rising Costs See Brewery Numbers Slip Back

Tough trading conditions and rising costs means that overall brewery numbers in the UK have slipped back slightly in the third quarter of 2023, according to the Society of Independent Brewer’s (SIBA) latest tracking figures.

Covering the period from the start of July 2023 to the end of September 2023, the SIBA UK Brewery Tracker shows the net brewery number across the UK dropped by -9 in Q3, compared to a +2 rise in Q2 and -4 in Q1.

This comes as the recent Autumn Statement increased business pressures such as raising the National Living Wage, but only froze support through Business Rates Relief and Beer Duty piling more pressure on independent breweries.

“Brewery numbers have been more stable than many would have predicted, with no large percentage decreases but it is still concerning to see numbers slip back slightly, and whilst it was positive to see beer duty frozen in the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor could have gone further and boosted the Draught Relief to 20% or more which guarantees that beer sold in pubs has a lower rate of duty.” said Andy Slee, SIBA Chief Executive. “When breweries are facing rampant costs from the increased National Living Wage, energy costs and inflationary pressures, there was nothing extra in the Autumn Statement to cover this.”

“Breweries closing is of course bad news for consumer choice, but even more than that it means many communities across the UK have lost a valued local business which provides jobs, contributes to the local economy, and provides a real community asset.”

YouGov polling released earlier this year as part of the SIBA Craft Beer Report 2023 found eight out of ten consumers believe a well-run independent brewery has a positive effect on its local community.

“The majority of beer produced by independent breweries is sold within a 40-mile radius, contributing to the local economy and supporting jobs in the area – the issue we have is not a lack of consumer demand but a lack of opportunity to get independent beers on to bars that are dominated by global brewers. Independent breweries need better access to market and increased Government support to avoid more brewery closures,” Andy added.

The new SIBA UK Brewery Tracker figures show a mixed picture across the UK, with some areas fairing worse than others when it comes to net closures and others bucking the trend by remaining level or seeing modest growth. Both Northern Ireland and the West of England each experienced a +3 rise in their overall brewery number, with the East of England seeing the next highest +2 net rise. Scotland remained stable, with no net change in brewery number.

The North East and North West each saw a small -1 drop in their brewery number, with the Midlands and South East each seeing a slightly larger drop of -2. Wales had a larger net closer rate of -5, but it was the South West which fared the worst of any region with a -6 loss across the third quarter of 2023.

The SIBA UK Brewery Tracker is compiled by full-time professional staff employed by the Society of Independent Brewers and is cross-referenced by SIBA Regional Directors in each of the eight SIBA Regions across the UK. The organisation considers a number of factors and data-sources alongside its own data analysis and extensive research.