Cains Licensing Struggle

Alex Turner in the Daily Post is reporting that Liverpool brewer Cains (now operating as RC Brewery) is in negotiations with HM Revenue and Customs over a licensing problem. Turner is quite negative about the company’s prospects:

The firm had previously operated three shifts and is now down to a single shift. Yesterday Mr Dusanj put this down to seasonal factors saying January, February and March were the quietest months of the year.

He also said that the brewers they produce beer for – which includes Greene King – require smaller volumes. But Mr Dusanj defended the company’s position, saying it was matching the performance of 2008.

“It’s on a par with last year, it’s a difficult time,” he added.

However, the same period last year was disastrous for the company, as half-year operational losses of £3.4m were added to by finance costs of £1.2m for the six months to April 28, 2008. The company’s brewery sales – which accounted for 40% of its income – had fallen 15% in the half-year.

The rest of its income came from its 102 pubs, but, after the administration, the Dusanjs’ companies controlled just nine pubs. [More]

I think the truth is that nobody outside the boardroom really knows the details on this, but it seems to me that given the economic conditions it would be surprising to find the company in rude health. Having said that having only nine pubs could well be less of a problem than Turner suggests, since the costs associated with the other 93 contributed to the collapse of the Cains Beer Company last year. The brand itself is still strong and the prospects for regional craft breweries in general seem relatively good for the time being, but it all depends on how deep and dark the recession turns out to be.