Sunday, 24 February 2013

A publican's profit

We're back with the topic of a publican's profit during WW II. This time it's their trade organisation in Plymouth complaining about the fall in their profit margin on beer.

If you can remember what I wrote about the profit margin on London beers before and during the war, you'll see a similar pattern being repeated. In the case of London, the margin fell from over 20% in the 1930's to under 15% in 1943.

Plymouth Move

Approval was given to the inauguration of an air-raid benevolent fund for its members when Plymouth and District Wine, Spirit, and Beer Trade Protection Society met at Farley Hotel, Plymouth, yesterday to consider recommended public bar prices consequent upon the increased taxation announced in the recent Budget. Mr. G. A. Ryman (president) said that this was the third Budget since the commencement of the war, and their profits had dropped from 26 to 16 per cent, on draught beers. If the price of beer went on increasing like this, licensees would be working for nothing. No. 7 district had met the previous day and were not satisfied with the position, and they were taking steps to see that retailers should get a chance of making living. It was a serious matter.

The increase on tobacco and cigarettes had been put into operation on Thursday, but the "Trade" had given a better concession in deciding not to increase prices until Monday next.

Recommended public bar prices to come into force next Monday were: Draught beer 8d. a pint; mild ale (Burton) 10d.: pale ale (Burton) 11d.; cyder (rough) 3.5d. Bottled beer (Bass, Worthington. Ind Coope D.D., Guinness, and other brands of higher gravities) 1s. 5d. a pint, 9d. half-pint, baby 6.5d.; other bottle beers of lower gravities 0.5d. on half-pint, 1d. on pint. Port, sherry, and cocktails, 9d.

Heavy wines would be increased a 1d. a glass and 1s. a bottle for outdoor consumption; light wines should be increased by not less than 0.5d. a glass and 6d. a bottle.

Mr. J. Squire (trustee) questioned whether a 1d. pint would be the maximum increase on bottled beers, particularly for the higher gravities. The recommended prices were approved.

Mr. Ryman said that the committee had suggested the inauguration of an air-raid benevolent fund in case any members became victims of an air raid and required immediate aid. Already £111 had been raised by voluntary subscriptions from members of the committee, and letters were to be sent to all members. Only subscribers to the fund would benefit.

Mr. Lee suggested members should contribute £3 each.

Mr. Ryman replied that was not desired to enforce any particular sum; this was a matter for each individual member's conscience.

The inauguration of the fund was approved, and the secretary (Mr. A. J. Collins) was authorized to circularize members for subscriptions."
Western Morning News - Saturday 27 July 1940, page 5.
The list of expensive bottled beers tells its own story. You'd expect to see Bass, Worthington and Guinness in there. Ind Coope D.D. is a new one. I'm sure older readers will know which beer that is - Double Diamond.

I have to mention cider, too. Or cyder as is was still usually spelled back then. See how ludicrously cheap it is compared to everything else? Less than half the price of the cheapest draught beer. That's because this was in the happy days when there was no tax on cider. On the other hand, it wouldn't have even appeared in these price-fixing agreements for most of the country. Consumption of cider was a fraction of what it is today and it remained very much a regional product. Plymouth is, of course, in Devon, right in the heart of cider country.

Subscribing to the air-raid fund would definitely have been a good idea. As a port on the south coast, Plymouth was bound to be bombed. As it was also a naval base, it was doubly a target.

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