Lancashire brewery targets micro-pub boom

CHANGES: David Grant

CHANGES: David Grant

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Investment in micro-pubs could prove the right magic for growth at Moorhouse’s Brewery.

The independent Lancashire brewer – famous for its Pendle Witches brands – is seeking small premises to turn into mainly cask ale specialists.

Managing director David Grant spoke of the challenges of a volatile market-place as the historic Burnley company celebrates its 150 anniversary

But while announcing growth of six per cent for the last financial year with a turnover of near £6m, Mr Grant revealed that Moorhouse’s is “caught in a perfect storm” as more than 20 pubs close each week.

Micro–brewers mushroom at a rate of some 12 a month. He believes it is now essential to grow a tied pub estate.

Currently the brewery owns three community pubs and has recently looked at acquiring small pub groups in the North. But with the traditional pub model struggling, one route to a healthy future could lie with the newly emerging micro-pubs concept; small outlets often set up in former shops to primarily sell cask ales.

Mr Grant said: “The number of micro breweries has tripled due to generous tax relief, giving them a trading advantage over bigger brewers. And they are all seeking local business – yet the number of pubs has fallen dramatically.

“We are being caught in a perfect storm with a shrinking market. Consequently I am actively looking at shops or small spaces in good strategic locations to open micro-pubs to complement the traditional pub model.

“These outlets would be in our core northern area and could operate for 48 hours a week. They would sell the very best quality beers and have a limited but first class wine and food offering.”