Saturday, 13 June 2015

Ind Coope and Allsopp

I hope you’re enjoying my series on breweries in the 1950’s. Because I’m not about to stop. You don’t want to know how much of this type of material I have.

Let’s see what this chairman has to say. How long will it take before he starts complaining about the government?

THE 37th annual general meeting of The company was held on 16th December, In London, Col. the Rt. Hon. Lord Court hope, P.C, M.C. (the chairman), presiding.

The following is an extract from the chairman's circulated statement:—

Though the Budget provided some relief in reduction of duty partly at the expense of the brewers, the sales decline which I anticipated in my last statement and continued notwithstanding a steadying influence exorcised by the exceptional Warm summer. All connected with the brewing industry must view with concern this continued fall in sales; and this is mainly due to the public grudging the price for the comparatively low strength beers dictated by Excise duty of a very high order. It is further well to bear in mind that the national output of beer at its present level is one not very different from that of the years immediately before the war and is only untamed by a state of full employment. Any falling away from this state must tend to reduce demand, to a level lower than that that has confronted the industry for many years; add to this the Uncertainty of the effect of devaluation on purchasing power over the country as a whole and we cannot escape the confusion that the industry may be confirmed with an exceptionally difficult period.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 89.

That’s some class whingeing right off the bat. Nice use of the verb dictate. No sign of resentment there. Surely the fall in sales was mostly due to the government cutting the amount of beer that could be brewed? Or maybe Ind Coope were doing so badly, that they couldn’t even fill their quota.

Just as well everyone had a job. Otherwise they'd be in excrement alley without a change of trousers.

Ind Coope Allsopp was formed when the Romford and Burton breweries merges in 1934. Both had gone into receivership a few years before WW I and forged a marriage of convenience after difficult years. Later, both were part of Bib Sixer Allied Breweries. Ind Coope’s Romford brewery closed in 1992.*

The chairman still hasn’t stopped complaining. If he goes on much longer, I’ll run out of synonyms.

“While our profits have fallen sharply from the artificial level resulting from the combination of the forces of inflation and reduction in strength of beers consequent on limitation of the use of materials, they are still at a level near to that of 1939 with an approximately similar barrelage. This being so it is an appropriate moment to consider to what extent charges on our profits now reflect the effect of inflation. Also - a very important aspect—the extent to which we are already carrying the increased cost of the improved conditions of service of both staff and workpeople prevailing in the more progressive business communities in the country. As to the latter, I have made reference in previous years and need only confirm that there is a comprehensive system of pensions, sickness benefits and welfare arrangements covering all classes of employees. On the former point it is briefly correct to say that depreciation is running at twice the 1939 figure and repairs at three times that figure. In addition, our appropriations to reserve taken together with the provision for replacement of properties are approaching twice those of the years, immediately before the war. You will observe that I have so far spoken with reference to the parent company and I would add that the accounts of the various subsidiaries in the group reflect the adoption of group policy on similar lines so that the group total provision for replacement and appropriation to reserves and increased carry forward amounts to the substantial sum of £401,197.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", page 89.

That’s a great excuse for falling profits. Profits at the 1939 level is a crap performance. The price of beer had more than doubled between 1939 and 1950. I bet he didn’t call it an “artificial level” of profit in the year it happened.

We already treat our workers well, so eff off government. I think that’s what he means.

At least Double Diamond was doing well:

“While we have suffered and are suffering our share in the reduced sales of the industry there are very encouraging factors in the sharply increasing demand for our Double Diamond in particular and for bottled beers in general. The extent to which the latter are appreciated by the public is borne out by a sharp increase in our bottled beer sales and profits; our policy of modernising our plant seems to be bearing good fruit. You will see that our cash and investments are substantially down on last year. This is largely due to the carrying; out of the deferred repair programme which we judge two-thirds completed, and to capital expenditure in the brewery, bottling stores and makings designed to produce economies in production particularly in manpower and fuel. In addition, substantial sums have been spent on converting limited licences to full licences, replacing worn-out furniture in hotels and licensed houses and purchases of a limited number of trade investments and properties when opportunities have occurred at attractive prices. Increasing cash is also continually being absorbed in stocks, and in particular in bottles and cases required for our increasing bottled beer trade. While much remains to be done to complete our programme in the breweries we are satisfied that our present cash resources should be sufficient for the purpose and for the limited expenditure on our properties now permitted by government policy. The extent to which further cash may be needed to finance rebuilding and reconstruction to which we are committed by local authorities and justices when government policy permits is difficult to forecast and must await appreciation when the time arrives.”
"Brewing Trade Review, 1950", pages 89 - 90.

The growth in bottled sales could also be due to the crap quality of their draught beer. When most sales were in tied pubs, brewers had pretty much a captive market. I can imagine situations where deliberately sabotaging your draught beer so more of the punters would drink pricier bottled.

It would worry me as an investor that the company had just about enough money to cover the fuck all the government would let them spend on doing up their pubs. And that pub furniture was considered a substantial capital investment.

Double Diamond. I remember that from keg pumps spitting stuff I never drank. Though the cask version, Burton Ale was rather pleasant. Used to drink it in the Rose and Crown in Baldo.

You want to know more about Double Diamond, don’t you? Go on. Admit it. "A Double Diamond works wonders - so drink one today" was their slogan. You couldn't say that nowadays. I can still remember the jingle. The power of advertising: I can remember the tune and slogan, was never even vaguely tempted to try the beer.

Analyses of DD next time. And some more of their beers.

* “Century of British Brewers plus” by Norman Barber, 2005, page 34.


Matt said...

According to a former Royal butler, Double Diamond is Prince Philip's favourite beer and he has a glass every evening. Surely they don't still bottle it just for him?

Alan said...

This is interesting. Sets the scene for EPTaylor swooping in. Very similar conditions to what he faced in Canada what with WW1, temperence laws and the Great a depression. Must have looked like a dripping roast to him having proved the concept of consolidation already.