Charles Wells' Bedford brewery sells to Marston's for £55m

Xavier Trudeau
Mai 19, 2017

After 141 years of brewing some of Britain's best-known beers, Charles Wells has today announced it is selling its brewery and beer brands to Marston's to focus on its pubs.

The spokesman said: "In the next couple of years Charles Wells will invest in a small new, Bedford based, brewery to supply beers to its pub customers in the United Kingdom and Europe, and brewing and supply agreements will be made with Marston's for interim brewing and longer term exclusive pub distribution services". Cockburn & Campbell, the wine merchants, will also transfer.

Charles Wells' pubs in the United Kingdom and France are not included in the transaction, while the Charlie Wells and John Bull beers will also remain part of the reduced company.

Going forward, its key focus will be the expansion of its managed pub businesses in the United Kingdom and France through acquisition, alongside additional investment in its leased and tenanted estate. Its investments include its Apostrophe Pubs business that has given premium makeovers for d'Parys in Bedford and Merlin's Cave in Chalfont St Giles in Buckinghamshire (pictured).

In the interim a supply agreement will be made with Marston's to supply beer to Charles Wells pubs, which will also have longer term access to Marston's wider beer and wine range.

The real ale crowd is likely to voice concerns about the future of the Charles Wells brewery but Marston's - formerly Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries - has a policy of taking a local approach to brewing, and has five regional breweries located throughout England, so the 300 or so employees at the Charles Wells brewery have reason to be optimistic on their job security.

Charles Wells chief executive Justin Phillimore said: "We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Marston's to acquire our brewery and become a close trading partner".

"After a detailed review of our strategy, we had chose to re-balance the company more towards retail investment and that meant finding a partner we could work with for the future".

Marston's chief executive Ralph Findlay said that the company was, "absolutely committed to the future of brewing in Bedford".

The acquisition of the Charles Wells brewing business - which bought the McEwan's and Younger's brands from Heineken in 2011 - will raise Marston's ale market share up from 11 per cent to 16 per cent.

The deal comes after Hobgoblin and Brakspear brewer Marston's said it had bought rival Charles Well Brewing for £55m - money it raised by issuing 57.6m new shares. Its 1,565-strong estate includes the premium Pitcher & Piano and Revere Pub Company bars. Underlying operating profit of £71million was up 0.7%.

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