Wednesday, 25 April 2012

George Younger's Export Trade 1914 - 1925

I'll tell you what surprises me most. That George Younger had any export trade at all by the end of WW I. Pretty much everything you could imagine had been against it. Not least of which were the German U boats.

"The start of the Great War in 1914 generally upset all continuity of trade. Sales abroad dropped off, more particularly in bulk, due to the difficulty of securing transport, and also to the home demand and the Government restriction on brewery output. Sales in bottled ales and stouts still remained fairly steady during the four years of the War, although they also declined for similar reasons.

The years 1919-1925 have been years of struggle in the Export Markets. The Indian markets, in bulk, are now coming back to normal; the West Indian markets are recovering slowly. The biggest market, the Straits Settlements, is now, however, in 1925 only just beginning to show welcome signs of recovery from the trade slump which overtook it after the War; a slump not dissimilar in magnitude from the trade boom it enjoyed 14 years previously.

It has also to be recorded that in 1925 the firm bought the business of J. E. Jowitt & Company, India, who had been acting as their agents in that country. A private Limited Liability Company has been formed, J. E. Jowitt & Company Limited, and will manage the important interests which George Younger & Son Limited have in that country.

Finally, it should be explained that the loss of the Australian and South African markets was entirely due to the fact that, following on a greatly improved knowledge of the science of brewing, breweries were founded in these two Colonies, which supplied all local requirements. Government assistance was also given in the shape of a heavy protective duty."
"A Short History of George Younger & Son Limited, Alloa, (1762 - 1925)", 1925, pages 8 - 9.

Given the nature of the German U boat campaign in 1917 - it came close to starving Britain - I'm amazed there were any ships available to transport George Younger's beer. Especially to such distant colonial markets. And British breweries struggled to supply their pubs with something vaguely alcoholic.

It seems the only export markets George Younger had left were India, the West Indies and the Straits Settlements. I was at first surprised that the West Indies market lasted so long. But, the situation there was quite different to, say, South Africa and Australia, which were large territories that were establishing their own industrial base. The West Indian colonies were much smaller and based mainly around agricultural products. It's telling that Jamaica's Desnoe and Geddes was only founded in 1918. The brewing industry was much more developed in South Africa and Australia by that time.

There's a surprising omission from the export markets. One that was to become important for British brewers: Belgium. Perhaps it's before they started selling beer there. But other Scottish brewers were active in Belgium by the early 1920's. Usher's and McEwan, for certain.

The book I'm using as a source was published in 1925 so that's where this tale of George Younger's exports has to end. Unless, of course, I find another source.


Anonymous said...

If ships were coming in with much needed supplies presumably they were sent back loaded with goods to provide much needed revenue.But there can't have been beer to spare for this.

dyranian said...

The book "Finest Drinks-John Martin's Story" gives info on George Younger's relationship with John Martin and the Gordon brand. Online version see