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UK: Small brewers buck beer sales gloom

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Beer sales across the UK may look to be in freefall, but local, independent breweries have seen revenues rise by an average 20% in the last year, according to a new report.

The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) has said that value sales among its 450 members increased by an average 20% in 2008, with like-for-like volumes up 7%, compared to 2007. Total volumes, including new producers, rose by 10% for the year.

The figures, published in SIBA's annual report this week, indicate that small-scale, local breweries are riding out the recession  more successfully than some of their larger competitors.

Total UK beer volumes fell by 5.5% last year, according to the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA).

SIBA chairman Peter Amor warned against complacency among SIBA members. "We are not smug about our achievements, for we recognise that the entire beer and pub industry must enjoy a measure of good health if we are to continue to prosper ourselves."

He echoed the BBPA's vehement cricitism of a 17% duty tax rise in 2008, which is set to be followed by further above inflation rises for the next four years as part of the government's "tax escalator" on alcoholic drinks.

"There is definitely no justification for government to congratulate itself on our success and tighten the screws further on our already grossly overtaxed industry," said Amor.

He added that a decline in on-trade beer sales was concerning for all in the industry: "Pubs are our lifeblood, and the on-trade is in severe crisis, with premises closing at the rate of six a day."

BBPA figures show that on-trade beer sales fell by 10% in the fourth quarter of 2008.


Sectors: Beer & cider

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