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Marston’s buys Charles Wells’ beer business for £55m

By Nicholas Robinson+

18-May-2017
Last updated on 18-May-2017 at 10:49 GMT2017-05-18T10:49:34Z

Delighted with the deal: Charles Wells chief executive Justin Phillimore
Delighted with the deal: Charles Wells chief executive Justin Phillimore

Brewer and pub operator Marston’s has acquired Charles Wells’ brewing business and beer distribution rights for £55m, after announcing half-year beer sales up 2%.

Charles Wells’ pubs and other assets in the UK and France have not been included in the deal, announced today (18 May).

Marston's trading update for the 26 weeks to 1 April:

  • +1.6% – destination and premium like-for-like sales
  • +1.7% – Taverns like-for-like sales
  • +2% – leased like-for-like profits
  • +2% – own-brewed beer volumes
  • +3% – average profit per-pub

For more on Marston's financial results subscribe to MCA here

Brands produced at the Bedford Brewery included in the sale are Bombardier, Courage and McEwan’s, as well as the UK distribution rights for Kirin Lager, Estrella Damm, Erdinger and Founders.

The exclusive global licence of the Young’s brands will be transferred to Marston’s, as will the wine merchants Cockburn & Campbell.

Charlie Wells and John Bull

Charlie Wells and John Bull will remain part of Charles Wells Ltd. A new small brewery will be built by Charles Wells in the next couple of years to supply beer to its pub customers.

In the interim, however, a supply agreement will be made with Marston’s for brewing and longer-term exclusive pub distribution services.

Charles Wells’ pub estate will also have easier access to Marston’s beer and wine range.

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 decided to re-balance the company more towards retail investment and that meant finding a partner we could work with for the future.

‘Opportunities for both companies’

“There are opportunities for both companies in this deal and we look forward to bringing them to life.”

Marston’s chief executive Ralph Findlay 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.”

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