No deal Brexit to be “avoided at all costs” says BBPA

Brexit, BBPA, no deal, beer, pubs
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Both on-trade and off-trade beer sales were up throughout the third quarter of 2018 – but the BBPA insists that the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is already punishing the hard-pushed pub sector.

The sale of beer throughout the country grew by over 4 per cent in the third quarter of 2018, but Brexit uncertainty has driven some customers to “tighten their purse strings” according to the British Beer and Pub Association.

The latest statistics from the trade association show a 4.4 per cent gain in overall sales on last year’s Q3, and are remarkable in documenting the first third quarter growth in on-trade (pub) sales for over 15 years: with over-the-bar revenue up 0.9 per cent.

A BBPA press release pointed to England’s performance in the World Cup combined with the pro- longed summer weather as having both been beneficial contributing factors – but wasn’t above pointing out that both occurrences were (regrettably) rather anomalous.

“Although the World Cup was a welcome boost to pubs,it only comes around once every four years,” read their release. “This means pubs cannot rely on it for growth.”

To that end, and not for the first time, the organisation said its membership required“ appropriate measures from government” in order to shore-up the long- term viability of the pub industry.

In that respect it lauded two key aspects of chancellor Hammond’s Finance Bill 2019, calling the decisions to freeze beer duty and cut business rates for a large chunk of the pub trade“a very welcome boost.”

But perhaps inevitably, uncertainty regarding the circumstances of and potential fallout from Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union was cited as“a major concern for the brewing and pub sector.”

In particular, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit spooked the BBPA – with its chief executive Brigid Simmons cautioning the government that such a scenario“ should be avoided at all costs.”

“The chancellor’s decision in the budget to freeze beer tax and lower business rates for thousands of pubs will make a huge difference to the viability of the sector moving forward, but Brexit looms large though and brewers and publicans alike need certainty,”she remarked.“[But] clarity on the transition period from March 29th onwards and a strong steer on the future relationship with the EU would be a boost to the trade and beer sales.”

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