Marston's takes over Bombardier brewer Charles Wells

Marston’s has consolidated its position as Britain’s leading ale producer by purchasing the Charles Wells brewery and brands for £55 million.

That means it has bolstered its portfolio with the likes of Bombardier and McEwan’s, while it has also taken on UK distribution rights for Kirin, Estrella Damm, Erdinger and Founders.

In 2015 Marston’s purchased the Thwaites beer division and it has also swallowed up Wychwood, Ringwood, Jennings and Banks’s over the years.

It has become the leading ale supplier to the off-trade and brands include Hobgoblin, Brakspear, Wainwright, Marston’s Pedigree, EPA, Jennings Cumberland Ale and Banks’s Bitter.

It now also has the global distribution rights for Young’s following the purchase of Charles Wells’ brands, plus the Cockburn & Campbell wine merchant arm.

The £55 million deal does not include Charles Wells’ pubs in the UK and Europe, while the Bedford brewer is keeping hold of newer brands Charlie Wells and John Bull.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive at Marston’s, said: “Marston’s is delighted to have reached this agreement with Charles Wells and is absolutely committed to the future of brewing in Bedford.

“This agreement offers us opportunities to extend our trading area into new areas. The acquisition of the Charles Wells brewing business builds on Marston’s established brewing prowess and is a further step in our objective to develop the leading premium beer business in the UK market, something that Bedford’s Eagle Brewery will play an important part in.”

Marston's has posted a 61% rise in its half-year pre-tax profit to £36.7 million, although on an underlying basis it was up 3% to £33.7 million.

Findlay added: “Our market position will be enhanced by the acquisition of Charles Wells brewing and beer business and we remain confident our strategy will continue to create value for shareholders.”

In the next couple of years Charles Wells has promised to invest in a small new brewery in Bedford to supply beers to its pub customers, and brewing and supply agreements will be made with Marston’s for interim brewing and longer term exclusive pub distribution services. It believes The Charles Wells pub estate will have the benefit of the wider beer and wine range available from Marston’s.

Justin Phillimore, chief executive of Charles Wells Ltd, 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 decided to re-balance the company more towards retail investment and that meant finding a partner we could work with for the future. There are opportunities for both companies in this deal and we look forward to bringing them to life”

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