It's a topic I’d wanted to get some hard facts on. I was aware that the percentage of sales in their own tied estate varied a lot between breweries. With some not really selling into the free trade at all. Holts used to be like that in the 1980’s. They wouldn’t even sell to beer festivals. While others, especially Scottish brewers, had almost no tied trade.
The numbers below confirm this diversity. Though there are a couple of caveats. Scottish brewers may have owned very few pubs, but they made extensive use of loans ties. They controlled far more outlets than they owned.
And the club trade is counted as free. Even though most clubs were really tied. All the Liberal clubs in Leeds, for example, seemed to be tied to S & N. Bass Charrington also had a large chunk of the club trade tied up, as well as the many pubs they owned.
Also counted as free are a lot of off sales. Though not all, as breweries often owned off-licences as well as pubs. Off-sales also made up a much smaller percentage of sales back then.
One thing that stands out is the huge difference in the trade of three London brewers: Barclay Perkins, Meux and Whitbread. The first two had the typical tied estate model, with the vast majority of their beer sold in their own pubs. While Whitbread sold almost half their beer in the free trade. I think I understand why: they had long bottled a large percentage of their beer and had managed to get their bottled products into rivals’ pubs. Later clever use of the Whitbread “umbrella” got their bottles into even more other breweries’ tied houses.
I was surprised at just how big Ind Coope and Allsopp already were in the 1940’s, with an estate about half the size of one of the smaller members of the Big Six in the 1970’s.
|Brewers' tied estates and free-trade distribution, 1948/9|
|Brewing company||Barrelage distributed to on/off licensed premises||Tied estate||Tenanted||Managed|
|Tied estate %||free trade/clubs canteens %||(numbers)||%||%|
|All (Brewers' Society Survey)*||69||31||54,940||83||17|
|Average of 22 Companies**||73||27||12,914||82||18|
|Bristol Brewery Georges||94||6||756||98||2|
|J. W. Green||89||11||358||100||0|
|Hall & Woodhouse||95||5||140||100||0|
|Ind Coope & Allsopp||68||32||2,697||79||21|
|Mitchells & Butlers||77||23||873||14||86|
|Russells & Wrangham||37||63||93||90||10|
|H. & G. Simonds||63||37||1,222||94||6|
|Steward & Patteson||95||5||614||99.8||0.2|
|"The British Brewing Industry 1830 - 1980" by T.R. Gourvish and R.G. Wilson, 1994, page 436.|
|* Barrelage data include Scotland, tied house data England and Wales only.|
|** Companies = earlier selection of 35, excluding Bass, Guinness and Tamplin (who made no returns) and Arrol, Colchester and Style & Winch (the subject of takeovers, but adding Simonds, Strong and Eldridge Pope.|
|Source: Brewers' Society, Brewing Returns, 1949, BS.|