What they said
Published:  09 March, 2007

Ged Futter, beer buyer, Asda

"If we look at the margins that the brewers make you will see they make significantly higher margins than any retailer out there at the moment. Scottish & Newcastle has double-digit margins, and there is not a single retailer making a double-digit margin at all."

Christopher Craig, beer & cider buyer, Sainsbury's

"If we want to drive significant growth in the beer and cider categories we need to make sure that beer and cider can step up to the mark with significant space in-store. If we are not able to drive brands in half a million, million pound-a-week turnover we are going to lose space to other competing categories in shops."

Mike Paul, executive chairman, Wine Intelligence "After hearing the presentations earlier, I thought I would change my title to 'Wow, I thought wine had problems'."

Graham Page, consultant, Nielsen

"Any beer growth that you can see is almost certainly going to come from the off-trade, not the on-trade."

Rupert Thompson, chief executive, Refresh UK:

"It would be really helpful if brands were on the balance sheet - you would have to audit how your brands have grown or eroded in value. It is a strict process and will not allow people to hide the fact that they have discounted deeply and the end result is achieving less profit. Some brands worth hundreds of millions of pounds are not on the balance sheet. If the auditor were to say you have lost £20-30 million on your brand it would make people think."

Jon Collins, chief executive, CGA Strategy

"This year somebody from the Department for Education & Skills will stand up and say : we realise young people are taking alcohol when they are not supposed to. It will move it like with drugs in the 90s away from, 'it's a bad issue, we can't talk about it' to 'it's a reality, what is the best solution to it?'"

James Clarke, managing director, Hook Norton Brewery Company

"I think there has been a huge amount of innovation from lots of my colleagues in terms of presentation, packaging and flavours of ale in the last year. We have Cyclops [Camra's tasting guide] on the back label and we developed a taller, thinner glass bottle. It cost a bit more money - the moulds for bottles were quite expensive - but we stuck to 50cl."

Nigel McNally, managing director, Wells & Young

"The price differential betwee n the on-trade and the off-trade is so great for some beers that it is undermining some premium values, not just for beer but for the category as a whole."

Mike Benner, chief executive, Campaign for Real Ale

"Beer is an incredibly diverse market as it is - the range of styles and varieties beat anything else. Where there has been good progress in terms of premium bottled ales, I don't think it is celebrated in supermarkets in the same way that wine is. There is still this stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap commodity approach attached to most beer.

If there is going to be innovation on the brewing side it needs to be echoed on the retailer side. There is no point innovating at the production end if you don't at the retail end."

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