Thwaites sells beer division for £25m

LANCASHIRE brewer and pub operator Daniel Thwaites is selling the majority of its beer division to Marston’s for £25.1m, excluding working capital.   

The deal acquisition includes its two best known brands: Wainwright and Lancaster Bomber.

Marston’s has been brewing Blackburn-based Thwaites’ beers since early 2014.  As part of this acquisition, it has entered into a long-term exclusive agreement to supply all beer, wine, spirits and minerals to Thwaites’ pub estate.

Thwaites’ beer division is a sales business of scale concentrated in the North West, including a 150-strong team of regional sales, marketing and distribution staff operating in the Independent Free Trade, national on trade and national off trade channels.

The business has shown good growth in recent years, including the acquisition of Hydes Brewery’s free trade business in 2012 which increased Thwaites’ business in Manchester.

Thwaites’ two principal beer brands are Wainwright, one of the most popular golden cask ales in the UK and Lancaster Bomber, a premium ale. Both brands have won numerous awards in recent years.

The sale is subject to a consultation process and it is envisaged that around  150 employees will be transferring to Marston’s before the end of April.

Thwaites has retained ownership of its’ award winning craft beer brands and other cask ale brands, including its seasonal ale range, which it will continue to brew and sell in its own properties.

Chief executive Richard Bailey said: “This is a very exciting development which allows us to focus on our pubs, inns and hotels, whilst retaining a small brewery to continue to supply our own properties with our fantastic beers and opening up a wider drinks range to our customers through a long term supply deal with Marston’s.

“We are delighted that our beer business will find a new home in a company that is as passionate about the quality of beer that we have always been and will provide ongoing employment for the vast majority of our employees affected.

“It is our intention to redeploy the proceeds into both our existing, and new properties and the sale of our third party beer business allows us to move forward with our strategy to provide superb hospitality in outstanding properties in great locations.”

Marston’s said the acquisition is consistent with its strategy to focus on popular premium ales with local and regional appeal, and provides an opportunity to capitalise on the developing free trade market and wider consumer interest in the beer category.

The transaction is expected to complete on April 17.

The acquisition is expected to be earnings-enhancing in the first full year of ownership; in the current financial year it is estimated that the contribution to profit before taxation will be around £1.5m.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive officer of Wolverhampton-based Marston’s, said:  “I am delighted to welcome our new colleagues to Marston’s. We are acquiring a very high quality business with good people and brands, and with growth potential.

“The acquisition is consistent with our beer business strategy to focus on local provenance and premium brands, and provides opportunity to capitalise on the developing free trade market and increasing consumer interest in the beer category.”

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