Adnams goes against the grain and beats the weather

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The Independent Online

Adnams is a little piece of sunshine in Suffolk and its half-year earnings were up a shiny 12 per cent, despite what it described as “a strong result after a long, cold spring”.

Quality counts in a fickle market and that has always been part of the calling card of a company nimble enough to cope in a fickle market favouring eccentric “craft” beers.

That long cold spring, though, has been bemoaned by plenty of its competitors. Take Ireland’s C&C Group, which complained about “unseasonably cold and wet weather, particularly in May” when it updated the market last month. To be fair, its Magners cider isn’t exactly marketed at the skiing set. But Tennent’s lager is, well, Tennent’s lager whatever the weather.

The previous month Whitbread, which used to brew beer but now operates coffee shops, budget hotels and pub/restaurants, was blaming a nasty winter for it falling short of the market’s expectations. M&S is a repeat offender while chocolatier Thorntons’ profit warnings used to be works of art. Sometimes it’s too cold; sometimes it’s too hot.

It’s just such a handy excuse. But relying on it is cheap. The vagaries of Britain’s climate shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, much less multimillionaire executives who really ought to be able to plan for and cope with it. Some do. Supermarkets, for example, spend lots of money on meteorology so they know when to trot out the barbecue food and when the ingredients for hot stews might be the thing to tempt the customer.

Of course, you’ll find it far less common for people to admit that the weather has helped. When things are going well, it’s clearly all down to the foresight of the talent in the chief executive’s chair.

Perhaps we should raise a glass to Adnams for going against the grain. Of course, Adnams has been going against the grain for some time, sticking to its brewing principles, and producing eclectic and usually excellent wine lists too. That’s why it’s proved so successful.

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