Melle, 11 November 2020 - It's a difficult year for the Huyghe brewery, which is suffering from the corona crisis just like so many other sectors. Despite the drop in turnover (-15%), Huyghe is nevertheless investing a total of €9 million this year. The brewer from Melle remains combative and finds energy in the positive notes, such as the slight growth in the American market - the second most important export market - and the good scores at international beer competitions. Huyghe has won no less than 13 medals in recent months.
2020 will be a year that no one will easily forget. Life came to a standstill in March and what followed was a laborious revival of society and economy. Due to the recent compulsory lockdown and closure of the hospitality industry, the sector had to deal with a second setback. The same goes for brewery Huyghe, which saw its turnover drop by 15% this year (period 1/1/20 to 30/9/20) compared to last year. Nonetheless, the year had started very well: in the first 2 months of 2020, the brewery recorded an overall increase in turnover of +17%.
Alain De Laet, CEO of the brewery, explains: "The corona crisis hit us hard, but fortunately we have been able to build up a financial buffer in recent years. This has allowed us to keep all staff members on board. Moreover, everyone within our Huyghe - 'family' - has been spared health problems, something we are happy about. Moreover, we see that a number of markets are recovering. In the US, for example, we are on a slightly positive track, partly thanks to the fact that there has never been a complete lockdown there and, above all, thanks to strong growth figures in offtrade. China is also doing well and is showing slight growth."
Investing, despite declining turnover
In recent years, Huyghe has already invested massively in the brewery, making it one of, if not the most sustainable brewery in the country. Because of corona, most companies are now freezing investments, but not Huyghe. This year no less than € 9 million was invested in various projects: Alain De Laet was one of the 3 investors in the new brewery Haeseveld in Sint-Amandsberg (€ 2 million), there was the set up of a local brewery St Idesblad in Koksijde (450,000 €), a new yeast propagation installation (600,000 €), a new hammer mill in the brewing hall (165,000 €), additional water basins and underground buffer tanks were constructed to collect more rainwater for reuse (350,000 €) and a new silent blowing system to unload malt trucks (75,000 €). The capacity of the barrel line has also been increased from 240 to 320 barrels per hour and an automatic 5L kegs line (€1,300,000) and numerous other investments have been made to improve the brewery. In addition, the brewery bought for more than 3 million € of neighbouring plots around the brewery, with a view to future expansions, as well as 3 bars in Eke.
7 medals at International Bear Challenge
The brewery continues to score in beer competitions. On the International Beer Challenge - one of the world's leading beer competitions - Huyghe Brewery won no less than 7 medals. There was gold for Delirium Tremens, silver for Delirium Argentum and St Idesbald Rousse, and bronze for Averbode, La Guillotine, Delirium Red and Blanche des Neiges. This makes the brewer from Melle one of the major winners in this competition, in which breweries from no less than 40 countries took part.
Because of corona, the judging procedure was different from usual: judges did not gather to taste the beer, but received anonymous beer bottles at their home address. During Zoom sessions - orchestrated by a chairman - the different beers were tasted and evaluated.
Earlier this year Huyghe won a silver medal at the World Beer Awards with Delirium Tremens and Averbode abbey beer. Delirium Nocturnum and Delirium Red each won a bronze medal. And at the Meiningers International Craft Beer Awards there was also gold with Delirium Tremens and Delirium Red.