Curiously the latest musings from Adnams finance director, Stephen Pugh, published in the Morning Advertiser last Friday (29/01/2011) have yet to appear on the MA's web-site. Perhaps he asked for it not to be, in order that only the brewing and pub industry gets access to it and you, dear normal consumer, remain blissfully unaware of his campaign. For if he and his friends get their way the world of UK craft brewing will be decimated.
In 2002 Gordon Brown announced the introduction of a 50% beer duty break for the smallest brewers, in order to stimulate local business. It worked, so well in fact that the number of small brewers has mushroomed across the country. This, in turn, has stimulated great interest from the ordinary consumer, leading to a small revolution in the brewing industry of this country. Cask ale sales have gone from decline to growth, strong growth, so much so that Molson Coors, one of our multi-nationals, has decided to get involved and has bought out Sharps, a cask ale brewer. This would have been unheard of a few years ago as the national brewers were falling over themselves to 'get out' of cask.
But Stephen, et al, doesn't like this, he wants my tax break reduced to less than 10% of its current level. That would result in two redundancies here (50% of the full time work force), zero investment, zero growth and me working many, many hours for very, very little. I would close down, immediately - unlike Stephen, I suspect, I have been there and done that, spending years brewing for pleasure and little else. I'm older now, and I have a family, so I need to earn a modest living, at the least.
Now Adnams turns over around £50m per year, resulting in post tax profits of around 2 to £3m. The directors are well remunerated, the shareholders get their dividend and the company marches on. So why the f%^k do they want to take my living away from me? And what the f5^k has it got to do with them anyway?
Whilst the rest of the brewing industry is working together to get the 'duty escalator' removed, for the benefit of all, some remain intent on attacking their younger, and significantly weaker, cousins.
Stephen likes to dress his arguments up as being in the best interest of the industry - now they may be in the best interest of *some* in the industry, they aren't in the best interest of the majority and they certainly aren't in the best interest of you, dear consumer.
Bear that in mind next time you come across a Broadside.
I went to Southwold to speak directly to Stephen and his boss Andy, they fed me a great lunch and promised they weren't in the business of putting anyone out of business. But they haven't changed their tack.