Monday, 27 January 2014

Camden Brewery profits

The 1890's were one of the best decades ever for British brewers. It was a time of optimism and increasing profits. It didn't last.

The new century saw the Boer War and an increased tax on beer to help finance it. On top of that the price of a brewing licence was greatly increased. Many breweries - including some big names like Allsopp - got into financial difficulties. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Camden's decision to raise more capital 1895 to enable it to buy more pubs seems to have paid off. Profits had been flat at around £20,000 a year in the early 1890's, but in the second half of the decade began to rise, more than doubling to over £40,000.

Camden Brewery profits 1892 - 1898
Year Profit
1892 £20,099 19 3 
1893 20,051 11 9 
1894 20,016 17 4 
1896 £33,643 17 6
1897 £41,488 1 10
1898 £43,766 4 0 
London Standard - Wednesday 20 March 1895, page 8.
Morning Post - Monday 12 December 1898, page 8.

Investors saw the benefit of these profits. Even when the brewery wrote off a considerable sum in 1896, a 10% dividend was paid on their Ordinary Shares:

"The Camden Brewery Company have declared a dividend on the Ordinary Shares amounting, with the interim dividends, to 10 per cent, for the year ending June 30 last. The sum of £7197 is written off for depreciation, £5000 is placed to reserve account, and £1578 carried forward."
London Standard - Saturday 01 August 1896, page 8.

"Camden Brewery Company, a dividend on the ordinary shares amounting, with the interim dividend, to ten per cent, for the year ended 30th June last."
Dundee Courier - Saturday 01 August 1896, page 2.
Though it's worth remembering that the Ordinary Shares had all been retained by the original partners in Garrett, Whitaker, Grimwood, and Co. The Preference Shares - the ones sold to ordinary punters - had a fixed return of 5%. Still not bad in age before inflation. And there was still enough profit to keep some back each year for a rainy day.

"At the annual meeting Camden Brewery Company, held Monday, the profits were reported at £39,133 for the year ended June 30. After paying prior charges, it was resolved place £7,500 to reserve, to pay 10 per cent, upon the ordinary shares, and carry forward £4,338."
Sheffield Daily Telegraph - Wednesday 28 July 1897, page 9.
In the final years of the century the brewery was able to pay a 12.5% dividend on its Ordinary Shares

"The Camden Brewery Company made a net profit for the year ended June 30th of £41,171. The Ordinary Shares receive a dividend for the year of 12.5 per cent.; £7500 is transferred to reserve, and £5188 carried forward."
London Standard - Tuesday 19 July 1898, page 9.
"The report of the Camden Brewery Company states that after paying the dividend on the Preference Shares up to December 31 last, and interim dividends on the Ordinary Shares, and transferring £7,500 to reserve, the sum of £17,467 was available. Out of this sum the 5 per cent. dividend on the Preference Shares up to June 30 amounts to £3,750, and it is proposed to pay £6,000 on the Ordinary Shares, making the dividend thereon for the year 12.5 per cent., and paying a bonus of £681 to the Managing Directors and office staff, leaving to be carried forward to next year £7,036."
Morning Post - Monday 24 July 1899, page 8.

Which meant the original partners got to divvy up £15,000 between them. That's in addition to the salary they would earn, if they were directors. Life must have seemed grand. So where did it all go wrong? We'll be finding out soon.

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