Jonathan Neame: Beer duty cut has given Shepherd Neame confidence to invest in 40 pub projects

pub & bar

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Public house, Tax, Shepherd neame

Jonathan Neame, chief executive of brewer and pubco Shepherd Neame, has revealed the cut in beer duty has given him the confidence to accelerate investment in his company's expanding pub estate. 

In an exclusive video interview filmed earlier this month at the firm's historic HQ, Neame told BigHospitality that, while the signs had been positive that the controversial beer tax escalator would be scrapped in the Budget,​ the further cut in beer duty had come as a surprise.

Kent-based brewer and pubco Shepherd Neame is Britain's oldest brewer

"It has been a great achievement - the first cut for 40 years is something that perhaps we didn't expect," Neame explained. "The key message for the Government is if you give us the fiscal stimulus we can create jobs and investment."

Pub investment

Neame revealed the beer duty cut was having a very direct impact on the Kent-based firm. "We feel it has given us a confidence boost such that we will accelerate our investment in our pubs next year.

"We are looking at something like 40 projects in tenanted and managed which we believe will create up to 200 jobs. 

"For a company our size that is a very sizable commitment," Neame added. However the businessman, who is also chairman of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), had a stark warning for decision makers who might be considering different types of taxation or regulation on the industry.

"Any regulation, any sense of more taxation, is a risk for businesses and they will then defer the type of investment I talked about, they will say: 'we will suspend it until we feel more confident'," he explained.

More confident

Jonathan Neame told BigHospitality that he was more confident about the future of the Shepherd Neame business than ever before

In a wide-ranging interview, Neame also gave his thoughts on the current consultation on possible statutory regulation for the tenanted model,​ explained how Shepherd Neame was learning from its tenants as it improved its food and bedrooms businesses and explained why he was more confident about the future of Britain's Oldest Brewer than at any point in the decade he has spent in charge of the company.

"We are probably more clear, more certain and more confident about the long-term future of this business than we have been for a while.

We can't call when the recovery is going to come but when it does we think that our business, and particularly this part of the world in Kent, are very well positioned to benefit," he added.

Thank you to Shepherd Neame for the use of photos in this article.

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