29 February 2024

UK begins 2024 with fewer breweries than start of 2023

Brewery Tracker | The figures released by the Siba UK Brewery Tracker show the UK total number of active brewers now stands at 1815, compared to 1828 in January 2023.

The data tracks all new brewery openings and closures to give a quarterly growth or closure rate, and despite a promising Q3 where numbers rose slightly, the tracker finished the year with a –2 Net closure rate in Q4 leading to an overall Net closure rate of –13 for 2023.

The knock-on effect for consumers is not just a reduction in beer choice on the bar, but the loss of a valued local business – eight out of ten consumers say a well-run independent brewery has a positive effect on its local community, and figures show Siba’s independent brewery members employ over 10000 people nationally. As well as the overall UK figures the tracker also analyses the regional breakdown of brewery openings and closures, with some areas of the UK faring better than others.

The North West had by far the toughest twelve months, with a significant –14 Net closure rate across 2023, with a –13 Net closure rate in Q4 alone – the highest of any region for any quarter of 2023. The North East also had a very tough year, with a –9 Net closure rate in 2023, with –5 Net closures coming in Q4.

The Welsh brewing industry also struggled, with a –6 Net closure rate for 2023, a –7 Net closure rate in the fourth quarter swinging the dial into the red for the country which began Q4 with a healthy +1 overall. It was a similar story for the Midlands who ended the year with a –5 Net closure rate following a -7 closure rate in Q4, which it started on +2.

The West of England finished 2023 with a –2 Net closure rate after a further –1 closure rate in Q4, and Northern Ireland managed a flat open/close rate for 2023 despite a –1 Net closure rate in Q4.

Moving into positive growth during 2023 was the South West which achieved a +4 Net growth rate, having finished the year with a huge +12 Net opening rate in Q4. The South East also had a positive year, with +9 growth overall following a Q4 Net growth rate which equalled the South West at +12. But it was the East of England that led the pack with the highest brewery growth rate anywhere in the UK, finishing 2023 with an impressive Net growth rate of +14 after a strong finish to the year, clocking a +8 Net growth rate in Q4.

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