WE’RE less than two weeks away from the Budget and the inevitable price rise brought by the beer duty escalator, predicted to add 5p to the cost of a pint.
It’s a concern for us all. And, as consumer spending continues to suffer, this will be a further blow, undoubtedly leading to fewer pub visits, more pub closures and redundancies.
I’d like to see much more consideration given to beer as one of the UK’s great heritage industries. It has huge value for the economy, with the Scottish hospitality industry alone contributing £1.5 billion and around 71,000 jobs.
A successful on-trade is, of course, good for our business but we need pubs to remain at the heart of Scotland’s communities.
We’ve been brewing beer for centuries, and a tour round our new visitor centre will confirm that drinking trends are ever-changing. But pubs have endured and play an important role – not only in delivering a safe and responsible drinking environment, but in our nation’s culture.
I believe that everyone in the business of making beer should be doing what they can to help the folk who serve it – the publicans who are working to keep their pubs, hotels and clubs thriving and in profit in an extremely challenging climate.
Having run pubs in my time, I know that every penny on the balance sheet counts.
That’s why we’ve ramped up the support we’re giving the trade this year.
Our first big announcement was our decision to freeze the wholesale selling price of Tennent’s Lager, Caledonia Best and Magners Golden Draught for Scotland’s free on-trade.
We’re the only major brewer to take such a bold step and we’ve done it for one simple reason: as Scotland’s leading brewer, we’re committed to the success of the Scottish on-trade and to supporting our pubs.
We’re also pressing ahead with the courses offered at the Tennent’s Training Academy, which is buzzing, with people starting out or furthering their careers in hospitality. Building better standards of service is part of our commitment and it’s so rewarding to see thousands train with us for future excellence in the industry.
And our investment team is partnering with on-trade businesses all over Scotland to provide millions of pounds worth of valuable funding – and the expertise and advice to match.
So as we enter another uncertain year, let’s work together to build confidence and a successful future for Scotland’s pubs.