The number of breweries in the UK grew by another 216 in 2020, up 7.5% from 2019, says UHY Hacker Young, the national accountancy group. There are now 3,018 breweries in the UK.
The number of new breweries has continued to increase despite coronavirus and its impact on pubs and bars. In 2020, pubs were closed for 161 days, 44% of potential trading days.
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 just 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 group 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.
James Simmonds, Partner at UHY Hacker Young, says: “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”
“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.
“With the closure of pubs and bars, smaller breweries have had to adapt to direct-to-consumer models. As hospitality begins to reopen, these new breweries will need to build on the momentum they have created through their direct-to-consumer sales.”