Independent Lancashire-based brewer Moorhouse's has announced plans to combat the impact of a shrinking pub market on its beers sales by tapping in to the trend for micropubs.
A micropub is a small bar set up usually in spaces such as former shops, and primarily geared to sell cask ales. Venues of this nature have been gradually emerging across the UK over the last few years, tapping into consumer trends for local beers.
Moorhouse's is now looking to acquire sites, including small pub chains in the north of England, to help it grow business. Managing director David Grant said its beer sales are currently challenged by the combined forces of a shrinking pub market and a booming craft beer industry. According to BBPA figures, around 20 pubs close each month. However, microbrewers are currently opening at a rate of around 12 a month. The brewer currently owns three community pubs.
Grant said: 'We now have our championship cask beers on the national stage, with pubs in the south and prestigious London venues. But, to survive as an emerging regional brewer, our challenge is to sell more beer in line with our new brewery plan when we invested to treble capacity five years ago.
'Having our own pubs is one way we can move forward. The whole pub and beer industry has changed immeasurably in the past few years. The number of micro breweries has tripled due to generous tax relief, giving them a trading advantage over bigger brewers. And they are all seeking local business – yet the number of pubs has fallen dramatically.
'We are being caught in a perfect storm with a shrinking market. Consequently I am actively looking at shops or small spaces in good strategic locations to open micropubs to complement the traditional pub model.'
Grant said the outlets would be in Moorhouse’s core northern area, including as far afield as York or Chester, and could operate 48 hours a week. They would sell Moorhouse's and guest ales, alongside a limited food and wine range.
Moorhouse's – based in Burnley – celebrates its 150th anniversary this year. It announced growth of 6% for the last financial year, with a turnover of almost £6m.