Breweries’ survival fears as pubs look set to remain closed
PUBLISHED: 06:30 28 April 2020 | UPDATED: 06:55 28 April 2020
Breweries in Norfolk are facing uncertainty over their survival amid patchy financial support and pubs set to remain closed.
The government’s retail, hospitality and leisure business grants fund does not cover breweries, despite them being a key part of the main supply chain for pubs.
Instead they can apply for small business grants funds, but only if they have a rateable value of £15,000 or less.
For Redwell Brewing in Trowse, which is slightly too large for the small business grant, the lack of a specific grant for the industry is an oversight which they say could lead to firms falling through the cracks.
MORE: Landlords fear ‘disaster’ summer if pubs stay closed for months
John Hughes, one of the directors, said: “A grant would mean we wouldn’t be living hand to mouth. We literally watch every penny we spend.
“There is a limit we can carry on for and then we will reach a point where we will have to close. Our online sales and walk-ins is our only source of revenue. ”
The challenging times also mean the beer will literally run out at Redwell, as its two brewers, whose salaries they cannot currently afford, have been furloughed.
Mr Hughes added: “We will also need to time to gear up to open when we are allowed to. We will have to then take staff off furlough and pay their salaries, which we can’t afford to do.”
Wildcraft Brewery in Buxton, which was eligible for the small business grant, has still had to start home deliveries for the first time in order to stay afloat.
Mike Deal, one of the owners, said: “We have had to completely change our business model and deliver straight to people rather than pubs.
MORE: Suffolk brewery insists pubs can survive prolonged closures – but makes call for further support
“The grant is enough to help for three months but after that it is uncertain. As long as we keep building the deliveries, we will be able to survive but survive is the key word.”
Martin James, owner of the Panther Brewery in Reepham, said the small business grant was better than nothing, but that they had also turned to home deliveries.
He added: “The grant is keeping us going but pubs are our customer and if we couldn’t supply them in the future we would have to look at making difficult decisions.”
• For updates on coronavirus in our region, join our Facebook page here.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Eastern Daily Press. Click the link in the yellow box below for details.