Figures released today show the UK had less breweries overall on the 1st January 2024 than at the same time in 2023, with a -13 Net closure rate over twelve months.
The figures released by the SIBA UK Brewery Tracker show the UK total number of active brewers now stands at 1815, compared to 1828 in January 2023. The data tracks all new brewery openings and closures to give a quarterly growth or closure rate, and despite a promising Q3 where numbers rose slightly, the tracker finished the year with a -2 Net closure rate in Q4 leading to an overall Net closure rate of -13 for 2023.
“There is still so much that needs to be done to protect independent breweries across the UK, with help from Government on a range of issues now more important than ever if we want to turn the tide and see a growing beer industry in 2024. Trading has been incredibly tough for independent breweries, and whilst the Government’s welcome introduction of draught relief for beer sold in pubs and taprooms last year was welcome we would like to see it extended in 2024 to a significant 20% discount.” Andy Slee, SIBA Chief Executive.
The knock-on effect for consumers is not just a reduction in beer choice on the bar, but the loss of a valued local business – eight out of ten consumers say a well-run independent brewery has a positive effect on its local community, and figures show SIBA’s independent brewery members employ over 10,000 people nationally*. As well as the overall UK figures the tracker also analyses the regional breakdown of brewery openings and closures, with some areas of the UK faring better than others.
“What is perhaps most worrying about the figures are the level of closures being experienced in the North of England – with the North West seeing a Net closure rate that is higher than the National figure at a huge -14, and the North East didn’t fare much better, with the second highest in the UK and a -9 Net closure rate for 2023. It is in these areas where the combined effect of rising production costs hurting margins and the cost of living crisis lowering sales appear to be hitting brewery businesses the hardest, with worrying independent brewery closure rates across the North.”
The North West had by far the toughest twelve months, with a significant -14 Net closure rate across 2023, with a -13 Net closure rate in Q4 alone – the highest of any region for any quarter of 2023. The North East also had a very tough year, with a –9 Net closure rate in 2023, with -5 Net closures coming in Q4.
The Welsh brewing industry also struggled, with a -6 Net closure rate for 2023, a -7 Net closure rate in the fourth quarter swinging the dial into the red for the country which began Q4 with a healthy +1 overall. It was a similar story for the Midlands who ended the year with a -5 Net closure rate following a -7 closure rate in Q4, which it started on +2.
The West of England finished 2023 with a -2 Net closure rate after a further -1 closure rate in Q4, and Northern Ireland managed a flat open/close rate for 2023 despite a -1 Net closure rate in Q4.
Moving into positive growth during 2023 was the South West which achieved a +4 Net growth rate, having finished the year with a huge +12 Net opening rate in Q4. The South East also had a positive year, with +9 growth overall following a Q4 Net growth rate which equalled the South West at +12. But it was the East of England that led the pack with the highest brewery growth rate anywhere in the UK, finishing 2023 with an impressive Net growth rate of +14 after a strong finish to the year, clocking a +8 Net growth rate in Q4.
The SIBA UK Brewery Tracker is compiled by a team of 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 and has become the go-to reference for accurate, up-to-date brewery numbers in the UK.