Number of UK breweries grew 7.5% in 2020 despite pandemic

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By Joe Lutrario contact

- Last updated on GMT

Number of UK breweries grew 7.5% in 2020 despite pandemic

Related tags: Beer, Brewing, UHY Hacker Young, Coronavirus, Pubs

The Coronavirus’ devastating impact on pub, bar and restaurant beer sales hasn’t put entrepreneurs off launching new brewing businesses, with the total number of UK breweries increasing by 216 last year.

National accountancy group UHY Hacker Young says that in 2020 the number of UK breweries was clocked at 3,018, an increase of 7.5% on 2019. 

This is in spite of hospitality being closed for much of 2020. Indeed, the closure of pubs and the coronavirus lockdown may even have acted as a catalyst for some entrepreneurs to start new brewing businesses. 

UHY Hacker Young says 55 new brewery companies were incorporated during the first lockdown between March 16 and June 1 2020.

UHY Hacker Young says that the slump in sales through pubs and bars has forced many breweries to find new routes to market with ecommerce sales direct to consumers vital to keeping many independent UK brewers trading during the pandemic.

According to the Society of Independent Brewers in April 2020, 30% of independent breweries still did not offer direct-to-consumer delivery or takeaway services.

The firm adds that the attraction of starting a brewery business in recent years has been influenced by the continuing stream of craft breweries being purchased by multinationals. 

For example, in February 2021, Heineken took control of Brixton Brewery after the company purchased an initial 49% stake in the brewery in November 2017. 

“Growth in breweries during a very difficult period for the drinks industry is a positive sign. Entrepreneurs clearly feel confident in the prospects for a bounce back once pubs and bars can open again,” says James Simmonds, partner at UHY Hacker Young.

“People’s appetite for trying new beers from different breweries has contributed to the long-term rise in new breweries being set up. The sector hasn’t fallen into the trap of discounting. There is also the prospect of an exit to a major brewer if you can build a valuable brand.”

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