Thursday, 1 December 2011

William Younger sales by district 1885 to 1900.

I've just been scanning "A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland" by Ian Donnachie. And I happened upon a table that's relevant to some of the points I've been making. In particular, the large trading area of Scottish breweries.

As we all know, the tied house system never really took off in Scotland. Certainly not in the way it did in England. Even in the 18th century, London brewers had strings of tied house. Sometimes freehold, sometimes leasehold. But the majority of pubs remained untied. At the same period it Scotland, breweries scarcely owned pubs at all.

The situation changed after the 1869 Licensing Act, which gave magistrates greater powers to refuse or discontinue pub licenses. Brewers began to start buying up pubs to guarantee sales. When the larger brewers became limited companies in the 1880s and 1890s and raised fresh capital, it turned into a mad rush. Ordinary pubs in the East End were changing hands for £15,000, £20,000 or even £30,000.

This didn't happen in Scotland and Scottish brewers saw their markets in England being whittled away as the tied house system took hold.The only brewers not to initially join the rush for pubs were ones with a good name and that could get their beers into competitors' tied houses: Bass, Worthington and Guinness.  And those in Scotland, of course. Eventually even the Burton brewers had to acquire their own tied estates. Only Guinness and the Scottish brewers remained without this safety net.

Here's what Ian Donnachie has to say on the topic:

"Youngers were the leading Scottish brewers by the early seventies, when the firm had an annual turnover in excess of £250,000. By 1880 annual sales were worth in the region of £350,000. Scottish markets absorbed just over half the sales: Edinburgh accounted for 25 per cent. Glasgow for 15 per cent and 'country' outlets the remainder. London was the largest single market with 35 per cent, but a high proportion of this must have been destined for export abroad. Yorkshire and Liverpool each absorbed 5 per cent, while Dublin and Manchester, with other modest outlets, accounted for the remainder. Unfortunately, no figures are available for Newcastle for 1880, but the following year that district absorbed around 20 per cent of sales, so the previous year's figures would require some adjustment in that light. More complete figures become available after 1885 and are given in the Statistic Book. Table 76 summarises the percentage distribution of Younger's main markets for the period 1885 to 1900. In 1885 the domestic market in Scotland absorbed over a third of sales, while Newcastle accounted for more than a quarter. London outlets took over 20 per cent and other places in England a total of 10 per cent. Ireland took just under 4 per cent. The corresponding figures for 1890 indicate the growing importance to Youngers of the Tyneside market, taking more than a third of sales, and of outlets in the west of Scotland based on Glasgow. Apart from Newcastle, most of the English outlets (while taking roughly the same amount of sales) were beginning to show problems. The Liverpool connexion was severed after 1890 because the growing number of tied houses on Merseyside closed the market to outsiders like Youngers. Data for later years show a similar problem in other English outlets, especially in London. As the figures for 1895 and 1900 indicate, the Scottish outlets assumed their former importance to the firm, accounting for over 40 per cent of sales in 1900. The Tyneside market was one in which Youngers had an established reputation and a firm foothold, through its association with the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Brewery, a number of tied or partially tied houses, and a team of active travellers.""A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland" by Ian Donachie, 1998, pages 216 - 217.

The distribution of Younger's sales, if you look at the table below, was very odd. They sold more beer in distant London than in their hometown of Edinburgh:

Market Distribution of William Younger & Company 1885-1900
Percentage Sales by Value
Market 1885 1890 1895 1900
Edinburgh 23.1 18.5 20.4 20.6
London 22.2 19.5 19.5 15.7
Liverpool 3.7 1.3 - -
Glasgow 12.8 17.1 18.3 22.5
Yorkshire 4 3.5 3.6 2.1
Manchester 1.7 2.3 2.8 1.8
Dublin 3.9 3.3 0.2 2.2
Newcastle 26.9 33.7 32.2 34.5

98.3 99.2 97 99.4
GROSS SALES £000s 407 631 769 896
William Younger Mss., Travellers' Statistic Book 1881-1912. (via "A History of the Brewing Industry in Scotland" by Ian Donachie, 1998, page 217.

The distribution of sales is bizarre, with around half their sales in London and Newcastle. Though the effect of the scramble for tied houses is clear in the decline in sales in London and other parts of England. Then there's Glasgow. It's not so surprising that Younger sold lots of beer there. It's only about 80 km between the two and Glasgow was the second largest city in the UK.

We'll be getting back to Glasgow again soon. Donnachie makes some points that appear to confirm my suspicion about the beer trade in Glasgow.

Finally, those total sales figures are handy. It gives me some idea of Younger's output. Standard Mild sold at about 36 shillings a barrel in the late 19th century. As Younger brewed large quantities of stronger beer, the average price they received per barrel is probably greater than that. Probably at least two pounds. By 1900 they must have been brewing around 400,000 barrels a year. Putting them in the top ten breweries in the UK.

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