Newsflash. Geordies and the Welsh like a drink. But if you want to make money selling it, you might want to head to Nottingham or Edinburgh instead. These aren’t sweeping generalisations – it’s what the data from Blue Sheep’s UK Business Universe® tells us about the small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) catering to one of Britain’s favourite pastimes.
While it's sadly true that pubs are closing at a rate of 15 per week, the number of SMEs in the UK has grown by almost a quarter over the past five years, and are expected to contribute £241bn to the UK economy by 2025. With this in mind, we thought it would be interesting to look at the density and turnover of British SMEs from the alcoholic beverages industry
For this research, we’ve based the definition of an SME on the UK government’s own criteria: less than a £25m turnover and fewer than 250 employees. Plus, we’ve excluded London, as it would skew the data too much.
So, where in the country is it easiest to find somewhere to drink? Who seems to be making the most money from our need to be inebriated?
Looking at the UK Business Universe® (UKBU), we selected the business categories for Bars, Public Houses and Wine Bars, to see which region offers the greatest choice.
Bars, Public House and Wine Bars, SME Count and Turnover
Outside London, the Newcastle NE postcode emerged victorious, with a combined 503 drinking establishments. This was followed by the Swansea area (482), Nottingham (447), Brighton (445), Peterborough (440) and Exeter (431).
Initially, we assumed this list would have some correlation with the size of universities (what with students being big boozers), but this is not the case. If it were, the students of Swansea University (56th largest in the country) and Exeter University (34th) would be punching (or rather, drinking) well above their weight!
That’s not to say that the density of these types of SMEs directly matched their turnover, either. Although drinking holes in Newcastle made the most money (£392m combined), the second most profitable place was Edinburgh (£307m), followed by Nottingham (£301m), Brighton (£296m) and Exeter (£248m). Swansea, on the other hand, has a turnover of £216m, down in seventh position.
This got us thinking. Where is all this alcohol coming from? Outside of the big beer companies, which SME cider makers and brewers were supplying us with a tipple?
Cider Makers, SME Count and Turnover
It will be no surprise to learn that the South West has the largest density of SME cider makers, with an impressive 14 companies in Taunton, Somerset. That’s one cider maker per 2,200 people in the TA postcode. This was followed by Exeter (10), then Bath and Hereford (6 each). However, further north, Blackburn and Halifax each boast a cider maker, as do Dumfries and Edinburgh in Scotland. In Blackburn’s case, that's a single local cider for a population of nearly 49,000.
There wasn’t a single region in Britain that did not have its own brewer (even the Shetland Isles has two), yet the density was more disparate. York has the most (18), followed by Brighton and Bath (15 each), then Swansea, Exeter and Nottingham (14). Edinburgh, Lancaster, Gloucester and Bradford have 13, while Newcastle, Derby, Norwich and Truro have a dozen each.
Brewers, SME Count and Turnover
There are clear winners when it comes to annual turnover, though. Edinburgh (£53.5m), Norwich (£41.7m), Blackburn (£40m) were operating the most profitable brewery enterprises, followed by Swansea (£32.6m) , Hereford (£32.7m) Bradford (£30.3m), and Harrogate (£29.3m).
After all this drinking, you’d probably be hankering for something to soak it all up. While a breakdown of takeaway businesses is an article for another day, we’d suggest heading to the one of UK’s largest fast food hotspots. With Birmingham offering 843 takeaway meal outlets, followed by Newcastle (710), Manchester (641) or Glasgow (635), you should be able to find something to suit your tastes.
With millions of records available, and details for hundreds of different business types within every region of Britain, it simply wouldn’t do the data (or the time our data-crunching wizards spent compiling the data) justice to attempt to cover off what it can reveal in a single article.So, if you’d like to see what Blue Sheep’s UK Business Universe® could tell you about your market and its nation-wide opportunities, get in touch. From the most profitable part of the country to open a bakery to where there is the highest demand for wig makers, we can help you out!
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