I've now got a fairly decent set of numbers on how many tied houses the big brewers owned. It's made me realise that the rise of the Big Seven was more uneven than I had realised. With some of the companies coalescing earlier than others.
Allied - created by a merger of Ind Coope & Allsopp, Tetley Walker and Ansells - was fully formed in 1963 and didn't really grow after that date. For a while they were considerably larger than any of their rivals.
Courage and Whitbread, on the other hand, didn't reach their peak size until the 1970's. In the case of Courage, this was after their merger with John Smiths, a considerable force in the North of England. While Whitbread continued to snap up medium-sized regional breweries through the 1960's and early 1970's.
Bass Charrington, a merger of Bass M&B and Charrington United, was a combination of the third and fifth largest brewing companies. They immidiately catapulted to the top of the league and remained there until the Big Six melted away in the 1990's.
The whole consolidation process came to a jarring halt in the mid-1970's, when the Labour government told the Big Six they weren't allowed to take anyone else over. I can see now that it had a stultifying effect on British brewing. Along with the Beer Orders, it's the main reaason no large Brirish brewing company exists today. Without interfernce, the Big Seven would probably have been whittled down to three of four, at most.
I didn't realise it at the time, but when I started drinkibng in the early 1970's, the big brewers had already reached their peak. They owned around 55% of all pubs but, through loan, ties, controlled even more. There was very little truly free trade in the early 1970's. In 1974, 13,800 were owned by smaller brewers, meaning around three-quarters of pubs in the UK were owned by a brewer.
It's strange now to think that at one point two companies owned a qurter of the UK's pubs and three more than a third. How the beer retailing world has changed in the last 30 years.
|Big Seven tied houses 1963 - 1989|
|Company||no. pubs||%||no. pubs||%||no. pubs||%||no. pubs||%||no. pubs||%|
|total no. pubs||73,800||72,550||71,457||70,495||80,212|
|The British Brewing Industry 1830 - 1980 by T.R. Gourvish and R.G. Wilson, 1994, page 472.|
|The Brewers' Society Statistical handbook 1973”, page 50.|
|2011 Statistical Handbook of the BBPA, page 74|
|"Brewers' Almanack 1971", page 83.|
|“The Brewing Industry, a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond & Alison Turton.|