Thursday, 22 February 2018

Publicans' profits again

Thanks to Edd Mather for sending me a fascinating document showing wholesale beer prices for May 1919.

It shows the prices agreed by regional brewers' associations for the various price-controlled classes, which at the time were 4d., 5d., 6d., 7d., and 8d. It's fascinating because there's considerable variation in the prices.

The problem with the system of price controls was that it only concerned retail prices, not wholesale ones. Brewers could, in theory, charge anything they liked. Though, obviously, they wouldn't want to bankrupt all their tenants.  Despite that, a publican's profit margin was wafer thin.

Some of the prices - the Birmingham non-discounted ones, for example, don't seem to leave anything for the publican. The wholesale price of 4d. beer varied between 68/- in Sussex and 95/- in Birmingham.

PRICES. MAY 31. 1919.
Locality. 4d. 5d. 6d. 7d. 8d.
1 Berkshire 72/- 80/- 105/- 120/-
2 Bedfordshire 72/- 90/- 106/-
3 Burton (for Tied Trade) 77/5 97/3 115/3 126/- 144/-
4 Bucks, 72/- 90/- 102/100 126/- 144/-
5 Birmingham 95/- - 135/- 155/- 175/-
do.      Discount 20% 76/- 108/- 124/- 140/-
do. 25% 71/3 101/3 116/3 131/3
6 Bristol mininum 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/-
7 Blackburn 70/- - 116/-
8 Bolton 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
9 Bradford 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
10 Cambs. 74/- 86/- 108/-
10a. Control Board Carlisle. 71/- 85/-
11 Gloster and Wilts 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
18 Halifax 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
15 Hants 74/- 92/- 112/- 130/-
14 Herts 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
10 Kent 72/- 88/- 106/- 124/- 150/-
16 Leicester (minimum gravities) 80/- 96/- 112/-
17 Liverpool 70/- 84/- 100/- 115/-
18 London 69/6 85/7 110/6 121/9
19 Lancs. 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
20 Manchester 69/- 83/- 98/- 112/-
21 Norfolk   (prices not unlfonr) 70/- 84/- 120/- 135/-
22 Northants. 72/- 84/- 96/- 108/-
23 Northumberland and Durham 72/- 84/-
24 Notts Maximum Discount 20% 72/- 84/- 104/-
25 Norwich 70/74 86/- 108/-
26 Newcastle 72/- 84/- 108/- -
27 Oxford 72/- 108/-
28 Potteries 72/- 86/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
29 Preston. 70/- 84/- 99/- 117/- 132/-
30 South Wales minimum. 66/- 78/- 95/- 120/- 130/-
31 Shrewsbury 72/- 84/- 105/- 120/-
32 Surrey 72/- 90/- 108/- 130/-
33 Sussex,   also a 3d. at 56/- 68/- 82/- 102/- 118/-
34 Sheffield. 72/- 84/- 96/- 108/-
35 Wiltshire (Minimum) 69/- 87/- 104/- 120/- 136/-
36 Yorkshire do. 72/- 90/- 108/- 126/- 144/-
37 Younger W. 70/- 86/- 102/- 112/-
Average Price about 71/10 86/2 105/4 120/9 141/7

This table should make the marginws easier to see. I includes the cheapest and most expensive wholesale prices for each category:

retail price per pint wholesale price per barrel wholesale price per pint mark up % mark up
4d 68/- 2.83 1.17 29.17%
95/- 3.96 0.04 1.04%
5d 78/- 3.25 1.75 35.00%
92/- 3.83 1.17 23.33%
6d 96/- 4.00 2.00 33.33%
112/- 4.67 1.33 22.22%
7d 108/- 4.50 2.50 35.71%
155/- 6.46 0.54 7.74%
8d 130/- 5.42 2.58 32.29%
175/- 7.29 0.71 8.85%

I can't see how a publican could survive if forced to pay the highest prices.

In case you weere wondering, these are the gravity bands for each price category:


Price control categories February to July 1919 
price per pint gravity range
3d below 1022
4d 1023-1028
5d 1029-1034
6d 1035-1041
7d 1042-1049
8d above 1050
Source:
“The British Brewing Industry 1830-1980” by T.R. Gourvish and R.G Wilson, 1994, Cambridge University Press, page 323.

1 comment:

Barm said...

One has to be careful with price lists as it sometimes happens even today that almost everybody is getting a discount of some sort on their beer. That may have been what was happening here – or then again, it might have been the case, as discussed previously on your blog, that publicans were watering the beer to make their profit margin.