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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Pubs and breweries pumping £180m into Cumbria economy

Pubs and breweries in Cumbria are worth £180m to the county’s economy.

Brewers photo
Graham and Caroline Baxter, of Yates Brewery

New figures released by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) reveal that 6,259 jobs depend on the county’s beer and ale trade, including 2,365 people for whom it is their full-time employment.

The study highlighting the massive amount of money linked to the industry was completed for the BBPA by economic experts Oxford Economics and relate to 2013.

The figures come as no surprise to those in the industry, but prove there is a thriving economy for those pubs which are run correctly – proving the importance of saving many inns under threat.

Richard Weir, of the Solway branch of the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra), said the study highlighted the thirst for the business.

“Good pubs will survive in any part of the country if they are serving good beer and good food,” he said.

“It’s the ones that don’t take care that suffer, because they are not offering anything different.”

This view was echoed by Caroline Baxter from Yates Brewery at Westnewton. The company recently notched up their 3,000th brew, and so Mrs Baxter knows what is popular within the trade.

“There are pubs closing but they tend to be the ones belonging to the bigger companies,” she said.

“The market is still very buoyant for those free trade and smaller pubs.”

According to the BBPA there were 778 pubs and 33 breweries in Cumbria, but Mr Weir believes that figure is ever-changing – his last count revealed “36 or 37” breweries.

Penrith and the Border has the highest number of pubs in the county, the BBPA says, with 174 pubs. It also has five breweries.

The Carlisle constituency has the fewest pubs – 79 – and no breweries, while Copeland has 134 pubs and seven breweries.

Figures for the Workington constituency showed it had four breweries and 116 pubs.

However, the industry was worth more to the Westmorland and Lonsdale district than any of the others – £48.6m – despite having only 133 pubs and nine breweries.

Mr Weir said that the figure for both Westmorland and Lonsdale and for the county as a whole – £182.3m – appeared high, but attributed much of this to the popularity of the Lake District as a tourist destination.

The real thrust of the business, however, lies in the values people associate with local beers.

Mrs Baxter said that the local pub was at the heart of many communities, and the ones which sold different beers and ales and looked different from the next were continuing to entice customers through the doors.

“People don’t want the same thing,” she added. “We pride ourselves on being part of the community.”

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