ALE Summer 2001 No. 303

Brewery & Pubco News

Milton Brewery launched Nero at the Cambridge Food & Ale Weekend 2001 to great acclaim - very moreish. It's a 5% oatmeal stout "as black as night" - a 500,000 candle-power torch can't be seen through it!

Charles Wells continues to be one of the few larger brewers which makes any effort for St George's Day and this year its associated promotion of Broadside was a great success.

Greene King announced annual profits of 15M at the end of June, following a net reduction of 75 pubs to about 1,600. Nearly 100 pubs were converted from managed to tenanted. However it's planning to buy at least 150M-worth of pubs when the time is right and believes there are no more underperforming pubs to be sold. It's also supporting its XX Dark Mild, which is selling well in some areas.

The independent brewers' trade body, SIBA, is expanding its ground-breaking deal with Nomura's Unique Pub Company. Normally smaller brewers are frozen out from pubcos as the economies of scale aren't there but SIBA has organised a successful bulk supply deal, which will now cover all 2,500 pubs and include about 350 brands of beer.

Review of the recent major changes in the industry

[A follow-up to articles Brewery News Spring 2001 and Beerage - All Change Autumn 2000.]


The brewery has been sold to Interbrew, which is continuing the cooperative marketing of Wadworth's 6X.

The 3,000 pubs have gone to Morgan Grenfell Private Equity (a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank), which is selling some on: 439 to Enterprise Inns already. (Enterprise is selling 176 pubs to help pay for these and for ones it's bought from Scottish & Newcastle - see below.) The group of about 2,500 pubs is now called the Laurel Pub Company.

What remains is a hotel, restaurant and leisure company. Brands include Cafe Rouge, Pizza Hut, Bella Pasta, David Lloyd fitness clubs, Travel Inns and Marriott Hotels (UK).

They're reported to be considering selling everything that's left, as the name Whitbread has little residual value.

As reported in the July What's Brewing, the Whitbread Archive, the largest such archive in the country, is to be split up, as the space is needed in the old brewery site in Chiswell Street, City of London, for new luxury flats.

Wolverhampton & Dudley

Pubmaster is trying to take it over via a hostile bid. If this succeeds, the four breweries will probably be sold (or failing that, closed) and some of the 1,770 pubs will be sold.

Meanwhile W&D's own plans include selling off some pubs, including the Pitcher & Piano chain, closing or selling the Mansfield Brewery and selling the Cameron's Brewery to Castle Eden. This would leave it with the Banks's Brewery in Wolverhampton and the Marston's Brewery in Burton-Upon-Trent (with its unique Burton Union cask system and Pedigree Bitter), plus about 1,500 pubs. W&D is one of the few large pub-owning companies which supports full pints.

CAMRA is running a major campaign to support W&D's plans and to fight the Pubmaster takeover. There's an online petition on the Web site.


The brewery in Burton-Upon-Trent has gone to Interbrew, who are fighting the Department of Trade and Industry's order to sell it on. Interbrew hopes it can sell the brands it least wants from the Whitbread and Bass portfolios instead. Bass Breweries is rolling out its latest wheeze nationally: Arc super-chilled lager, served at about 2C.

Meanwhile South African Breweries is reported to be interested in buying Bass Breweries as part of its European expansion. It already owns Pilsner Urquell.

Around 1,000 pubs were sold to Nomura, the UK's largest pubs group, leaving over 2,000.

What remains is a hotels & leisure group. Brands include Holiday Inn, Posthouse, Crowne Plaza, O'Neills, It's A Scream, All Bar One, Harvester, Browns and Robinsons soft drinks.

It's changing its name to Six Continents (it has no plans to open in Antarctica) as "Bass" went with the brewery.

Scottish & Newcastle

The Scottish Courage brewing arm is carrying on, with gradual expansion into the Continent.

Meanwhile it's selling off pubs it thinks are underperforming (mainly community pubs), leaving about 2,500 pubs, which are mainly managed, branded chains of large pubs in high steets such as Chef & Brewer and John Barras. About 650 pubs were sold in June, 432 to Enterprise Inns.

It now says that all major pub chains over-invested in pubs (i.e. trendy, short-lived themes) in the late 1990s, impacting profits. No, really?

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