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Enville Freeze Prices To Help Beleaguered Pubs
For those of us working in the brewery industry, it is alarming how many pubs have disappeared in the last three years. If you drive around the Black Country and surrounding areas you canít fail to notice the number of pubs being boarded, sold or demolished every week.
Many of those outlets have historically been the very heart of our local communities; providing entertainment, friendship, a game of darts, crib or dominoes, a place to meet, a base for a sports team or society as well as the chance to relax from the stresses of modern life with a decent pint, a glass of wine or a soft drink and all within walking distance of ordinary peopleís front doors.
Everyone knows the pub trade has suffered from a string of financial body blows including successive duty increases over the past few years, a second January rise in VAT, increased competition from cheap supermarket alcohol, rising overheads including energy, the effect of minimum wage legislation and, to some extent, social changes triggered by the smoking ban. Following the Chancellorís inflation busting 7.2 per cent increase in beer duty in the Budget the directors of Enville Ales decided enough was enough and scrapped plans to try and recoup our own increased costs from rising energy and material prices during the past 12 months. Instead we have announced that we will abandon our annual price increase and absorb additional costs at least until March next year.
Enville Ales is just a little South Staffordshire brewery, a very small cog in a large industry, but we wanted to find a way to express our support and solidarity with the local licensees that are still in business and give them the opportunity of making a little more margin on our range of cask ales. The same applies to the solid support we have received from local wholesalers and national pub companies who are all feeling the pinch in these difficult times.
Enville has a large debt of gratitude to all the local licensees who have helped us survive through some difficult times in the past three years and this is our chance to give something back to them, our distributors and hopefully some of the loyal drinkers who enjoy our ales.
The current directors and myself took control of Enville Ales in 2007 and in the years since then have concentrated our efforts on improving quality, consistency and service as well as coming to terms with the financial overheads caused in the main by inherited borrowings. We have invested our own money into the business to clear borrowings, a large bank overdraft and overdue trade creditors so we can concentrate on product quality, brand choice and service. As a result, sales have grown and Enville Ale and other speciality brands like Enville Ginger, Cherry Blonde, Enville White and Old Porter can now be sampled in more than 180 pubs, clubs and restaurants around the region.
During the last three and a half years Enville have won more than 20 CAMRA and other awards for our beers and recently the brewery was chosen by Mad OíRourkeís Pie Factory owner Peter Towler to brew his famous Lump Hammer Bitter. We are proud to be brewing for this legendary Tipton landmark.
Back at the brewery, cutting back on our use of energy has been high on our agenda. Enville is an authentic steam brewery and uses its own natural well water to make its ever expanding range of ales. New cask cleaning equipment saves around 50 per cent on water usage and a new eco-friendly effluent plant has been built to process waste.
With all this going on, it was no small matter to decide to freeze our prices, and before making the decision we met with our local MP for South Staffordshire, Gavin Williamson. He was clearly sincere in his understanding of our concerns and was most supportive with a couple of issues hampering the breweryís expansion plans. Mr Williamson kindly wrote to George Osborne on our behalf, expressing our views on the damage being caused to the pub trade by successive duty increases and the fact that these had been made worse by the increase in VAT from 15 per cent to 20 per cent in the past 15 months.
The response from the Chancellorís office was predictable but nevertheless disappointing, basically stating that the increase in duty was unavoidable given the state of the nationís economy. Whilst that may be so, we at Enville all agreed it was time to make our own contribution - which is likely to cost us around £50,000 from the bottom line over the next 12 months. With a Royal Wedding on the horizon we will be making our own special celebratory ale. Hopefully it will go some way towards chasing away those duty increase blues.
Express & Star: Saturday 2nd April 2011
Brewers freeze prices to help struggling pubs
A brewery today announced a beer price freeze to help landlords as it warned that the traditional local pub is in danger of dying out. The move will cost Enville Brewery £50,000 in lost revenue but bosses insist it is necessary to help struggling pubs in the Midlands. Click the image below to see full article (pdf file).
Please remember to drink responsibly and leave licensed premises quietly respecting others in the neighbourhood. Our tip, 'Always Take a Taxi', we will be.