Campaign saves Marston's Bitter from the axe

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Months of campaigning have saved Marston's Bitter from the axe.Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries (W&DB) wanted to ditch the ale brand —...

Months of campaigning have saved Marston's Bitter from the axe.

Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries (W&DB) wanted to ditch the ale brand — acquired when it bought the Marston's company in 1998 — in order to make room for Banks's Bitter.

But tenants and pub regulars launched the Save Marston's Bitter campaign, which saw thousands of signatures delivered to W&DB bosses.

Campaigner and tenant Ann Sharp of the Sycamore, in Burbage, Leicestershire, said: "It's not often the little man wins.

"This is great news and I would like to thank everyone involved in the campaign and everyone who gave it publicity — including The Publican Newspaper."

She added that Marston's Bitter accounted for 70 per cent of her wet trade and that regulars had been furious when they were told their favourite tipple was to be withdrawn without consultation.

The W&DB move had angered licensees all over the Midlands and the North West.

The Manchester Campaign for Real Ale backed the licensees. Chairman John Clarke intends to report the victory to the national annual meeting of CAMRA in April.

W&DB spokesman Jeremy Eaton said: "We have reversed our decision.

"We have realised that Marston's Bitter is very popular in small pockets of the country and the brand will continue to be available where it is in demand."

He said the "pockets" were the Rhyl area of North Wales; South Manchester and Hinckley in Leicestershire.

Eaton said the original decision to scrap the brand had been based on national sales figures.

"It's minute nationally. It's only when you look at the smaller picture that you realise how popular Marston's Bitter is in certain areas."

The brand may also be available again in W&DB managed pubs where its replacement — Banks's Bitter — has underperformed.

He said he hoped the decision would show that the company listened to its tenants and customers.

Among the comments on the petition were "No Marston's No Custom" and "Keep it or lose our trade".

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