Spirits and fizz ‘taking over beer’

Spirits and wine make up 50% of drinks sales in new pubs

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Rising: sales of Champagne and gin on the up
Rising: sales of Champagne and gin on the up

Related tags Great british pub Alcoholic beverage Spirits trade association Uk

Spirits and wine are giving beer a run for its money, with the two categories now accounting for almost half (49%) of value sales in new pubs, bars and restaurants.

That’s according to the Wine and Spirits Trade Association’s (WSTA) Market Report​, which claimed spirits and wine in operations opened between 2013 and 2015 accounted for almost half of drinks sales value.  

A rise in demand for spirits has also pushed gin sales over the £1bn sales mark in record time, with sales in the on-trade totalling £601m in the 12 months to August 2016 and £424m for the off-trade in the same period.

In the past 12 weeks, £149m of gin was sold in the UK on-trade, up 19% year-on-year, as a result of the warm summer, said the WSTA.

Rise to £97m

Sparkling wine (not including Champagne), meanwhile, saw sales in pubs, bars and restaurants rise by 19% to £97m in the 12 weeks to 7 September.

More than £804m of fizz was sold in the on-trade over the past 12 months, a rise of 13% compared with last year.

Total sales of sparklers, including Champagne, exceeded £1bn in the on and off-trade in the past 12 months – up 11% on the previous year.

The WSTA said: “There has been a noticeable increase in the number of specialist gin bars opening, as well as pubs and restaurants offering gin menus and serving G&Ts with alternative garnishes in bespoke glassware."

Great British pub’s image

The group added: “Although beer has traditionally been associated with a visit to the pub, the statistics show the tide is turning and bar entrepreneurs are looking at ways of serving spirits and fizz to diversify and update the great British pub’s image.”

The public’s thirst for gin has also led to an uptick in the number of new distilleries. Last year, 56 opened – 28 in England, six in Wales, 10 in Northern Ireland and 12 in Scotland – according to the HMRC.

WSTA chief executive Miles Beale said: “The latest Market Report ​shows how popular gin has become with UK consumers, including those supporting British pubs. While bar owners and restaurateurs have seen the magic and versatility of the quintessentially British spirit gin menus, and bespoke glassware are now a regular feature in pubs too.

“And wine too, the nation’s most popular alcoholic drink, continues to play an extremely vital role in our pubs, including as part of the broader British food and drink revolution.”

Future Trends: Spirits event

To book your place at the Future Trends: Spirits event either visit www.spiritssummit.co.uk​ or contact Joanne Horton by email at Joanne.Horton@wrbm.com​ or by phone on 01293 610 403.

Event partners include headline sponsors Diageo and Schweppes, associate partners Pernod Ricard UK and the WSTA and bar partners City of London Distillery, Masons, Slingsby and Warner Edwards.

Other speakers on the day include gin expert David T Smith, CGA Strategy, Euromonitor International and Seedlip founder Ben Branson. Visit the event website to see the full agenda.

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