The Morning Advertiser round-up: the biggest stories in 2017

By Nikkie Sutton

- Last updated on GMT

Celebration time: the biggest stories of the year involve beer, buy outs and big wins for the pub trade
Celebration time: the biggest stories of the year involve beer, buy outs and big wins for the pub trade
Beer launches, buy outs and terrorism all hit the pub industry hard this year but this isn’t to say there wasn’t some positive news too.

Here, The Morning Advertiser ​takes a look at the biggest stories of 2017.

Kicking off 2017 was beer writer Pete Brown who explained why it was time to say no to bad cask ale.

Following on from this, Yorkshire pub the Star Inn, Harome was named the best gastropub in the country​ at this year’s Estrella Damm Top 50 Gastropubs Awards.

Moving on to February, AB InBev announced the launch of Bud Light to the UK in response to “growing demand”.

AB InBev marketing director Nick Robinson: "Our research shows younger drinkers, in particular, want a beer with a lighter taste, fewer calories and lower ABV – all things Bud Light delivers as a stand-alone, premium light alternative."

This wasn’t the only new beer launch at the beginning of 2017 as Heineken was next up with a non-alcoholic version of its flagship lager.

Heineken 0.0 was unveiled in 330ml bottles across the on-trade, accompanies by a £2.5m marketing push. Each bottle contains 69 calories.

The Morning Advertiser ​has created a timeline of some of the most notable stories of 2017, which can be seen below.

The biggest news of the year

March also brought the next round of gongs with the Publican Awards where New World Trading Company swept the board​ across six categories to dominate the night.

April and May were the months of acquisitions with not one, but two, big businesses adding to their portfolios.

These included Carlsberg, which revealed plans to buy a UK craft brewery​ to bolster its growing portfolio of smaller brands.

Carlsberg.CEO (1)
The Carlsberg CEO said: "Finding the right one in the right location and making sure it fits with our existing portfolio is quite important".

Marston’s also bought Charles Wells’ brewing business and beer distribution rights​ for £55m.

Brands produced at the Bedford Brewery included in the sale were Bombardier, Courage and McEwan’s, as well as the UK distribution rights for Kirin Lager, Estrella Damm, Erdinger and Founders.

Marston's trading update for the 26 weeks to 1 April:

  • +1.6% – destination and premium like-for-like sales
  • +1.7% – Taverns like-for-like sales
  • +2% – leased like-for-like profits
  • +2% – own-brewed beer volumes
  • +3% – average profit per-pub

For more on Marston's financial results subscribe to MCA​ here

This summer, the UK was hit by a spate of terror attacks including one incident in London Bridge and Borough Market in June.

Pub staff saved the lives on their customers at the Young’s-owned Wheatsheaf pub​ in Borough Market by barricading themselves in the venue just moments before the attackers were gunned down by police.

Borough Market
Terror attacks occurred across the country and pub staff saved customer's lives

In July, the first wave of pubs closed following spiralling business rates,​ according to the Association of Licensed Multiple Retailers (ALMR).

Chief executive Kate Nicholls said: “A number of recently closed venues within London I spoke to confirmed that increases in business rates bills played a part in their closure.

“The ALMR has been warning the Government for years that spiralling business rates were having a severe effect on businesses and that if this issue was not addressed, we would unfortunately see closures.

“If the Government does not do something to fix a broken rates system, more businesses will close their doors.”

Spiralling business rates
The ALMR revealed that pubs, particularly in London had been victim to business rates

August played host to the Campaign for Real Ale’s Great British Beer Festival​ and beer writer Pete Brown shared his experience. However, it was not as glowing as organisers might have hoped.

More pub success in September with the John Smith’s Great British Pub Awards where Lancashire pub, the Eagle & Child in Ramsbottom took home the overall title of pub of the year 2017.

The business drew praise from the judges for its work as a social enterprise, giving opportunity and career options to disadvantaged young people, from young offenders through to people with disabilities.

Sexist beer marketing​ was on everyone’s lips in September after an Irish brewery came under fire on social media amid claims its packaging and tag line for its beer degraded women.

Deep Throat beer
Beer groups were outraged at sexist beer marketing

In November, a specific beer style hit the headlines​ when Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster, and beer author Garrett Oliver criticised breweries producing hazy, low bitterness Indian Pale Ales – known as New England IPAs (NEIPA).

He called NEIPA a fad and said Brooklyn was not interested in producing imitations of the style.

Supermarkets are a continuing threat to the pub sector​ and in November, this was more prevalent than before because both cheap booze and beer on tap were available at the shops.

However, rounding off the year in December was the announcement of the 2018 Publican Awards finalists.

The first round of judging was completed and the shortlisted companies will now face a gruelling process of further scrutinisation as they compete to be named winner in the UK pub sector’s most prestigious awards.

The Morning Advertiser​ wishes all of its readers a very merry Christmas and happy new year.

As the year draws to a much-anticipated close, we want to thank you for all your support over 2017. 

We'll be back on 2 January as usual with daily news and views on the sector and will be updating our Facebook​ and Twitter​ accounts over the holidays. 

Good luck at this busy time of year. Cheers!

The MA team

Related topics: Marketing

Related news