As it eyes the challenges of 2015, ‘the North West’s newest regional brewer’ reported December trade boosted by national exposure with leading pub companies. The famous ‘Pendle Witches‘ brands saw a major uplift of 26 per cent on sale volumes and 20 per cent in revenue over December 2013.
Much of the Christmas growth came from further success with national pub companies, while the free trade business – concentrated in northern England – held its own against fierce competition from the burgeoning ranks of micro-brewers.
To meet the seasonal needs Ice Witch was rolled alongside a selection of Christmas themed blended special ales. Bottled sales enjoyed a 34 per cent spike with further exposure through leading supermarkets.
Despite the economic climate, Moorhouse’s has enjoyed business growth overall by 10 per cent for the past year. Annual turnover is now north of £5m for the former ‘backstreet’ Burnley brewery, which took the bold step of launching a new £4.2m complex in 2011.
The December sales surge followed record growth for the Halloween season in October and has inspired a cautiously buoyant mood as the internationally acclaimed brewery enters its milestone 150th year
David Grant, managing director, said: “It was very rewarding to see our Pendle Witches ales cast their spell nationally with leading pub companies over Christmas. Our free trade business remained steady in the face of the onslaught of competition from the ever growing army of micro- brewers.
“As we enter our 150th year of trading we are facing a very challenging business environment. However, our recent growth has further buoyed our confidence for the future. We are investing in new branding and new staff along with training initiatives to ensure an even better service.
“When our beers go into pubs they rapidly disappear, but as we fight pump-by-pump for a place on the bar we need to ensure that licensees are stocking enough beer. We are asking pub goers to help by using social media to alert us when supplies of their favourite Moorhouse’s beers are running out.”
Mr Grant also welcomed the newly launched Tryanuary* campaign which aims to counter the ‘Dry January’ movement by encouraging consumers to try a new beer. Last year he was almost a lone voice in speaking out against abstinence lobby, which he warned was damaging to the pub industry.
He said: “There are still some 20 pubs closing each week and publicans need to keep trading healthily after the surge of Christmas and New Year. We want people to enjoy pubs and drink sensibly, so we back the Tryanuary initiative. My New Year message once again this year is;’ Pubs are not just for Christmas’.”
Ends/Ref: MHPR/Moorhouse’s Festive sales success 2015
Notes to editors:
Moorhouse’s brands pay tribute to the legend of the ill fated ‘witches’ of landmark Pendle Hill near Burnley who were tried and executed at Lancaster in 1612.
Several hundred free trade pubs throughout the North West and Yorkshire are supplied directly while leading national pub companies and wholesalers distribute across the UK.
Founder William Moorhouse established his drinks manufacturing business in Accrington Road, Burnley, Lancashire in 1865. It produced mineral waters and then low strength hop bitters for Temperance Movement bars. Full strength cask ale brewing began in the 1970s. It struggled to survive and in the mid eighties Manchester businessman Bill Parkinson bought the brewery ‘because he liked the beer’.
In 2011 Moorhouse’s launched a new £4.2m to treble production capacity to 1000 barrels a week.
Moorhouse’s has won more brewing awards than any other comparable brewer.
*The social media run Tryanuary initiative encourages drinkers to seek out new independent breweries, beers, bars and bottle shops during January. SIBA (Society of Independent Brewers) is supporting the move. SIBA managing director Mike Benner said: “January is always a challenging time for beer and for the broader drinks and pubs industry. What’s great about Tryanuary is that it encourages consumers to drink differently, not more, and it also includes a charity aspect, by suggesting they donate money to a worthy cause for every new beer they discover, for example.”
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