Brewery numbers fall in 2023
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New figures released by the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) show there are now fewer breweries in the UK compared to a year ago.
SIBA’s UK Brewery Tracker shows the total number of active brewers is now 1,815, down from 1,828 in January last year – an overall net closure of 13 breweries.
SIBA chief executive Andy Slee said: “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 while 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 per cent discount.”
“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 nine 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 12 months, with a significant -14 net closure rate across 2023, with -13 in Q4 alone – the highest of any region for any quarter of 2023. The North East also had a very tough year, with five net closures coming in Q4.
The Welsh brewing industry also struggled, with a net six closure rate for last year. A net seven came in the fourth quarter, swinging the dial into the red for the country which began Q4 up one overall. It was a similar story for the Midlands, which ended the year with a minus five net closure rate, losing seven in Q4.
The West of England finished 2023 down two, and Northern Ireland ended up even, despite losing one in Q4.
Moving into positive growth during 2023 was the South West, which was up a net four having finished the year with an increase of 12 in Q4. The South East also saw a rise up nine 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 rate, finishing last year with an impressive plus 14 with eight in Q4.