Hydes boss Mayers: ‘Little hope on Tories or Labour’

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Salford-based company: Hydes MD Adam Mayers says the business has done well in the past year but the industry is mired in uncertainty
Salford-based company: Hydes MD Adam Mayers says the business has done well in the past year but the industry is mired in uncertainty

Related tags Hydes Adam Mayers Finance Multi-site pub operators Pubco + head office Brewing

“We’ve got a dead Government” claims Hydes Brewery managing director Adam Mayers and he doesn’t have much faith in the Conservatives or Labour currently.

Uncertainty rules now and will do for some time Mayers believes despite his company’s proficiency during the past year, where cask ale sales are increasing as well as in keg and food.

Statistics show cask ale sales are nationally in decline but you’d never know it at Hydes Brewery, which brews cask, keg and packaged beers and operates pubs across the north-west of England and north Wales.

“Trade has been very good in 2023 for us. We’ve definitely been ahead of the market and had double-digit sales growth,” Mayers says.

“There’s definitely been a volume increase, not just in beer but in food sales and everything so we’re pleased with that and a large degree of that success has come on the back of our refurbishment of the pub estate over the past couple of years.”

He explains whatever the group has done to improve its lot has, generally, worked whether it’s opening a new pub, refurbishing an existing one, and that’s informing Hydes’ future decisions and it will carry on with its estate refurbishment plan.

He continued: “I have a very clear view on what we should be focusing on. It should be quality people, pubs and the products we’re selling.

“I’ve tried to get the estate and my team into a position where the quality is as good as it can be and that’s leading our decision to invest further in our pubs.”

Challenges faced

On the challenges the industry is facing, Mayers says it’s the same as everybody else right now, which includes inflation rises, the uplift in wage costs, business rates and recruitment costs.

He says: “Our challenges are not really different to anybody else out. We were quite lucky in that we avoided most of the energy price increases post-Covid because we had good energy contracts.

“We’re going to see another cost-of-living squeeze. I just hope we don’t go into full recession.”

With the Spring Budget taking place on Wednesday 6 March, Mayers warns industry peers they need to be reasonable in their expectations from the Government.

“We already know what’s going to happen with the rise in the living wage. The government isn’t going to do anything on VAT because it can’t afford to.

“I’d like to see something on business rates, maybe rather than continuing to heavily tax the pub industry, we could look to get alternative income sources from elsewhere and protect our trade a little bit more.

“So an online tax could be used to finance some savings that go on within the pub and brewing industry. But I’m realistic on this, the Government is running a large deficit and anything would help.”

One clear focus

He continues: “I’m not expecting large amounts on beer duty but the Government’s got to work out what’s best for us all overall and you need one clear focus and that would be on business rates for me right now.”

When quizzed on the idea of business rates being looked at before the next general election, Mayers explains: “We’ve probably got a dead Government. Let’s be honest about it. All the polls are showing we’re likely to see a Labour government next time round.

“Do I think the Tories are going to do much between now and the election? I very much doubt it. Nothing is going to change. Do I think they going to do much for our trade now? No, I just really don’t.

“What causes trouble for MDs and everybody up and down the country is the uncertainty. Unfortunately, we’re going to be in large degree of uncertainty until sometime next year. Although I don’t think the Tories are going to do anything, I’m not that optimistic about the future with Labour either if I’m honest.

“We’re not going to see a massive change in [the way] Government [acts now and after the next general election] and that for me is probably the most worrying aspect for the UK right now.

“I don’t have a large degree of faith in any political party of any persuasion right now because none of them are really saying much for our industry, are they?

“You can be incredibly apolitical about all this and say I don’t think either of them are giving us very much at all – that’s the reality of it.”

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