Pubs and grassroots sport: the perfect match

September 2019

Pubs contribute an estimated £40 million to grassroots sport as rich heritage remains strong

Pubs across the country are providing a lifeline for grassroots sport, worth an estimated £40 million a year in financial and in kind support, according to new research published today.
This first-of-its-kind research was undertaken for PubAid, the organisation that promotes the good work done by pubs across the UK, and supported by the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA) and the Sport and Recreation Alliance.

Sports Minister Nigel Adams said: “Pubs play an important role in supporting local sports clubs. They act as sponsors, fundraisers and meeting places, saving teams significant sums every year.

“This survey highlights the strong relationship between pubs and sports clubs, and is a clear indication of the importance of local, community support.”

Lisa Wainwright, CEO of the Sport and Recreation Alliance added: “Funding at a grassroots level is one of the biggest concerns for sport and recreation clubs across the country.
“Looking at innovative, engaging ways to connect with the local community is an excellent way of making clubs financially stable and, in turn, allowing them to support a local industry.
“We’re delighted to see such a vast range of sport and recreation activities benefiting from these relationships.”

Des O’Flanagan, co-founder of PubAid, said: “We were expecting the research to show a strong connection between grassroots sport and pubs, but the scale of the support, both in financial terms and in the sheer number of sports sponsored by their local, was staggering.

“The support – either in money or in kind – equates to an average annual donation from each pub of £1,025. For many grassroots clubs struggling to stay afloat, that kind of help plugs the funding gap and enables thousands of people across the country to play the sport they love, with huge benefits to their physical and mental wellbeing.”

Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said: “The PubAid report showcases the vital role pubs play in helping grassroots sports teams to compete across the UK and to encourage sports participation and physical activity which is so vital to our health and wellbeing.

“From sponsorships, through to free meals and venue hire, it is clear that many community sports teams simply wouldn’t get by without the help of their local pub. For pubs, helping a local sports team is a great way of giving back to the community they serve.”

Top 5 sports supported by pubs
• Football (40%)
• Pub games (e.g. darts/pool): 30%
• Cricket (16%)
• Rugby Union (10%)
• Rugby League (4%)

Getting involved: tips for licensees
• Think carefully about which sports you’d like to support: for your sponsorship to be successful, choose a sport that is popular in your local community. What sports do your regulars play or follow?
• Research the local sports teams in your area. Create a list of those you would like to offer support to, and think about what this support will include before you approach a team. Will it be direct financial support, or in kind, or a combination of both?
• When you are ready to approach a sports team about offering support, make sure you approach someone who is in a position to make decisions for the club, such as a chair or treasurer.
• Remember the value of in-kind support: if you’re offering a free buffet after home games, make sure the sports club realises how much that will save them in room hire and refreshment costs.
• Be clear to the sports club about what you expect from them in return for your support. Do you get sponsorship rights? Are you expecting them to drink in your pub after matches and training? Being clear up-front saves confusion down the line and leads to a better partnership for pub and sports team.


Pub group cuts 10,000 water bottles with Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz

September 2019

Award winning gastropub group Whiting & Hammond is on course to remove 10,000 single use water bottles from its supply chain this year, following the installation of the Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz dispense system across its eight sites.

In each pub, the distinctive Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz bar-top font serves sparkling and still pure filtered mains water, replacing 75cl single use water bottles. Having initially installed the system to provide a premium non-alcoholic drink solution, Whiting & Hammond soon realised the added environmental and economic benefits of switching to dispensed water served in re-usable stoppered bottles.

Paul Worman, Operations Director for Whiting & Hammond, said: “We’re on course to dispense and sell at least 10,000 bottles of water by the end of the year, which means switching to Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz equates to eliminating close to 900 cases of 75cl water bottles from transport, delivery and storage across our sites.

“We additionally make operational savings on storage and chilling, open up fridge space for other products, and as an added bonus we generate near to 100% profit on each sale. It’s good for our business and good for the environment, and customers see no difference in quality.”

Over and above its standalone water sales, Whiting & Hammond is also seeing the benefits of serving an appealing range of non-alcoholic drinks, made by mixing dispensed sparkling and still water with the Mr Fitzpatrick range of more than 25 botanically infused flavours.

‘A premium non-alcoholic drinks range is increasingly important to our customers, and we’d been looking for something innovative and different to deliver that,” added Worman. “There was simply nothing available to match the Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz solution for flavour, variety and profit delivery.”

The bespoke system, supplied by dispense specialist Brewfitt, is connected to the mains water supply. The system comes with premium branded glassware and exclusive drinks recipes. The combination of cost-effective dispense and premium serves can deliver a category-leading GP of 85% on soft drinks, and close to 100% on still and sparkling water.

Mark Fenton, head of brand for Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz, said: “As an ‘early adopter’ of the system, we’re delighted that Whiting & Hammond are seeing such clear benefits to both their sustainability profile, and to their bottom line.

“The environmental impact of bottled water is an issue of increasing concern, while more consumers than ever are looking for appealing and engaging non-alcoholic drinks. The Mr Fitz Aqua Spritz system addresses both issues for operators of restaurants, pubs, bars, hotels and the full range of hospitality businesses.”

For more information, visit

Rounds encourage one in three to drink more than intended

August 2019

Drinkaware research lifts lid on peer pressure around drinking

A third (35%) of drinkers in the UK drink more than they intended because they were encouraged by others, reveals a new study by independent alcohol education charity, Drinkaware.

The research, published in Drinkaware’s annual monitor of more than 2,000 adults, unveils a culture of peer pressure around drinking. More than a third (35%) of drinkers say that pressure to drink is common in their age group – rising to 60% in the 18-24 age group – and 57% would like it to be less prevalent.

More than one in three (37%) UK adults who drink alcohol report drinking more than they planned because they were in a round, a third (34%) drank more because they did not want to be impolite and refuse a drink, while 29% said they wanted to keep up with others.

Some drinkers employ tactics to resist the pressure to drink, such as nursing their drink to avoid having another (37%), while 11% say they actively seek friends who drink little or no alcohol.

For those who do drink more than they intended, it’s friends and co-workers who are most likely to be influential, with 60% of people claiming their friends have encouraged them to drink more than intended and 43% of people in work saying there is too much pressure to drink when socialising with work colleagues. Thirteen percent of men who drink are influenced to drink more by their boss or a superior, compared to 8% of women.

A significant proportion of adults are contributing to the culture of pressure; one in five (21%) adults who drink admitted to having encouraged someone to drink more alcohol after they said they didn’t want to. A similar number had given someone an alcoholic drink or topped up their glass without asking first (19%).

Drinkaware Chief Executive, Elaine Hindal, says: “Our research lifts the lid on a culture of peer pressure in this country. It speaks volumes that over half the adult population say they would like there to be less pressure to drink.

“And it seems from our new research that being polite, not wanting to confront a situation and feeling the need to keep up could be preventing many of us from standing up to that pressure.”
While the number of people who drink at least once a year has decreased year-on-year (81% of UK adults compared with 84% in 2018), the results show pressure to drink could be fueling binge drinking. Of those polled, 46% of people who binge drink* reported drinking more than intended because they’ve been encouraged by others, compared to 35% among other drinkers.

Hindal added: “Pressure to drink in the majority of cases isn’t malicious, it may not even be conscious. Most people just want the people they’re with to have a good time. But regularly drinking alcohol above recommended levels can significantly increase the risk of developing a range of health conditions.”

Helping customers to control their drinking

Licensees and their teams can play an important part in reducing the alcohol harms that can arise when people are pressured into drinking more than intended. Drinkaware recommends that pubs and bars put in place some simple measures to help customers in their venue to control their drinking and resist peer pressure to consume more than intended.

These could include: offering an interesting range of low and no alcohol drinks; selecting house wines at the lower end of the ABV scale, and offering them in 125ml serves, and serving food for the same hours as drink is served.

It’s also helpful to have team members who are able to spot the signs of someone who is drinking more than they should, perhaps because of peer pressure. Drinkaware’s Alcohol Vulnerability Awareness e-learning course helps staff to understand what vulnerability means and gives practical advice on how to support them. For more information:

Finally, if you suspect a customer is buying alcohol for someone who is already drunk – or who is drunk themselves – then selling them a drink is against the law. Drinkaware and the British Beer & Pub Association have produced two posters to help communicate this to customers – ‘Can’t Get Served’ and ‘Mate’s in a State’, which can both be downloaded free of charge from the Drinkaware website here

*The NHS states in the UK, binge drinking is drinking more than eight units of alcohol in a single session for men and six units in a single session for women

Carlsberg UK and Guild of Beer Writers launch sustainability award

August 2019

Carlsberg UK is sponsoring a new prize within the Guild of Beer Writers Annual Awards this year, with the aim of recognising the importance of writing and other communication in driving sustainability in the beer and pubs sector.

The Carlsberg UK Award for Best Writing on Sustainability in Beer and Pubs is now open for entries until the closing date of 6 September. Submissions can be press articles in trade or consumer-facing publications, blogs, radio or TV broadcasts, podcasts or any other communication that reports on sustainability.

Entries can be made online on the Guild’s website All submissions will be reviewed by judges and a shortlist announced in November before the winners are announced the Guild’s Annual Awards Dinner on 3 December. The new Award comes with a £1,000 prize for the winner and £500 for the runner-up, contributing to a total prize fund of £13,500 – an all-time high for the competition.

Carlsberg UK Head of Corporate Affairs, Andrew Roache, said: “To secure a sustainable future for our industry, brewers and pubs must strive to have a positive impact on people and the planet. By sharing across the industry and learning from one another, we can progress faster.

“We are delighted to sponsor this new award to honour the writers, podcasters, filmmakers, journalists, and all those documenting the pursuit of better across the industry. It recognises their important role in sharing knowledge and ideas to build a more sustainable future.”

Guild Chair Pete Brown said: “Sustainability is one of the most important topics in our industry and likely to become even more so in the years ahead. It is absolutely right that we recognise and reward those writers who are contributing to greater awareness and sharing of best practice in the field, and we’re thrilled that Carlsberg UK are making this new award possible.

“We now have nine Awards sponsors and are immensely grateful for their support. We’re very proud of our awards scheme, which encourages entries from a wide range of communicators, is robustly judged and offers a generous prize fund. We look forward to rewarding the best beer and pubs communicators at our Awards Dinner in December.”

Award categories, criteria and downloadable entry forms can be found on the Awards page. Entries must have been published between 1 September 2018 and 31 August 2019 to be eligible.

Judging this year’s entries are: Laurence Creamer, Social & Digital Lead on industry campaign Long Live The Local; Tim Hayward, food & drink author, restaurant reviewer and regular on Radio 4’s Kitchen Cabinet;: Charlie McVeigh, founder of Draft House; Tony Naylor, food & drink writer contributing to The Guardian and BBC Good Food; Ross O’Hara, head brewer at Greene King; Kate Oppenheim, hospitality sector journalist and communications expert, currently publisher and editor of BII News; Tony Sophoclides, Strategic Affairs Director at UKHospitality. The current Beer Writer of the Year, writer and broadcaster Emma Inch, chairs the panel.

Goodbye plastic rings. Hello Snap Pack. By sticking cans together, the Carlsberg Snap Pack helps to halve plastic use from brewery to store. Part of the brewer’s ambitious sustainability plan, Together Towards ZERO.

Brakspear reports results for 2018

August 2019

J T Davies & Sons, the parent company for Henley-based pub operator and brewer Brakspear, increased its turnover during the year ending 31 December 2018 by 12%, to £31.8m which generated EBITDA of £8.7m, up 13% on the previous year. Profit before tax over the same period was £5.4m, representing a 12% increase on 2017.

Sales growth came from the 13-strong managed house division and amounted to £3.2m, giving an annual turnover of £14.8m for managed houses. The turnover increase came from like for like sales growth of £0.9m, the full year growth effect from sites opened in 2017 of £1.7m and £1m from the opening of the Frogmill near Cheltenham in July 2018.

Turnover in the tenanted and leased estate was level with the prior year reflecting a 1.6% increase in like for like trading volumes countered by the transfer of a site to the managed division at the end of 2017 and the sale of two sites in 2018, both to local pub operators, as part of Brakspear’s pub disposal programme.

The growth in EBITDA is as expected following investment in managed house growth and in the leased and tenanted estate. During 2018 investment in the maintenance and enhancement of the pub estate amounted to £6.7m and included the company’s single largest investment to date at the Frogmill. The venue now comprises a 100-cover restaurant, bar, 28 boutique bedrooms and wedding and conference facilities for up to 150 guests.

Other significant investments included the addition of 13 bedrooms and refurbishment of the bar at the Lion in Wendlebury, near Bicester, aquired for the managed estate in autumn 2017; a full redevelopment of the Joker Croydon within the T&L estate, and a number of smaller refurbishments. For the first time in many years, during 2018 the company acquired new property and commenced construction projects to increase its unlicenced property estate.

Chief executive Tom Davies said, “2018 met our expectations in terms of sales and profitability. Our core tenanted and leased business continues to trade well. I believe we have some of the best pubs in the T&L sector, run by some of the most talented operators.

“Our managed estate is developing nicely, despite cost pressures impacting the business, it seems at every turn. Investment in our people and systems is helping us to further improve service, sales and profitability.”

Davies added “Our plan has been to continue to support our tenants and lessees, with the aim of helping them to build thriving pub businesses, whether food-led or community local. In our managed estate, we aim to deliver exceptional standards across food, drink, rooms and service, ensuring that every customer leaves us happier than when they arrived. I am pleased to add that so far in 2019 this plan continues to work for us.”

In June 2019 Brakspear purchased the Nags Head in Abingdon, sited halfway across Abingdon Bridge on its own island in the middle of the Thames, with extensive gardens. The company continues its search for acquisition opportunities to grow its leased, tenanted and managed pub estates.

Pubs across the country enter Charity Pub of the Year competition

August 2019

Pubs across the country from Elgin to Southampton have entered the Charity Pub of the Year Awards, organised by PubAid and the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group (APPBG) and sponsored by Matthew Clark.

Entrants are coming from all sectors of the industry, with managed and leased pubs from operators including Ei, Punch, Wadworth, Fuller Smith & Turner, JW Lees, Hawthorn Leisure, St Austell and Joseph Holt as well as independent licensees. The competition is open until 30th September and entry is via an online form at

The competition, now in its second year, seeks to recognise pubs who go the extra mile in their support of charities and good causes. While the sums of money raised are one element, judges are also looking for other involvement, such as hosting meetings for local groups, offering meals as raffle prizes or doing good works in the community, such as litter picking or helping elderly residents.

All pubs who enter the competition are promoted on PubAid’s social media channels and pub companies are encouraging their licensees to take part, with the help of a suite of assets including internal ads and Twitter and Facebook templates. To request these, or to find out more about the competition, contact

After the closing date, judges will review entries and publish a shortlist of the pubs who are, in their view, best fulfilling the aims of the competition.

All finalists will be invited, with their MP, to attend a reception in London, where the overall winner will be announced. Co-founder of PubAid, Des O’Flanagan said: “We’re delighted with response so far to the Charity Pub of the Year 2019 and grateful to Matthew Clark for their sponsorship which is enabling us to give the competition more support this year.

“Whatever size of pub you run, whether you raise money for a national charity or a local cause, or support your local community in other ways, please think about entering and receiving recognition for the great work done by you, your team and your customers.”

David Philips, Managing Director, Matthew Clark, said: “The support provided by pubs up and down the land for charities and worthy causes is hugely impressive, with licensees and their teams frequently putting in many additional hours to organise fundraising events and similar, on top of the demands of running a pub. They certainly deserve recognition and we are proud to be sponsoring these awards for a second year.”

Mike Wood, MP for Dudley South and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Beer Group, said “We had some fantastic entries for this award last year. It was truly humbling to learn about the amazing things that pubs do to support charities and local community groups. We already have an impressive list of entrants for this year’s competition and are looking forward to welcoming the finalists to a celebration of their achievements in the autumn.”