Guinness Peat attacks Adnams performance

By The PMA Team

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Adnams, Suffolk, Shareholder, Jonathan adnams

Adnams: under fire from shareholder
Adnams: under fire from shareholder
Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has been criticised by one of its shareholders for the way it has expanded the business over recent years,...

Suffolk brewer and retailer Adnams has been criticised by one of its shareholders for the way it has expanded the business over recent years, including the launch of its Cellar & Kitchen retail chain.

Guinness Peat Group (GPG) said there was "persistent and growing shareholder dissatisfaction" over the running of the business by its founding family.

In a letter sent to fellow shareholders before Monday's annual meeting and shown to the press, GPG points the finger for the company's disappointing recent performance on investments made by chairman and former managing director Jonathan Adnams. That included an £8m modernisation programme at the brewery and a new £6m distribution centre — both of which have won awards for their green credentials.

GPG said Adnams' 2008 results, in which operating profits collapsed by two-thirds, were "so poor as to suggest that the substantial expansionary investment projects sanctioned by the board since 2000 have actually weakened rather than strengthened Adnams's traditional brewing and pub businesses in East Anglia".

It also questions the rationale for developing facilities aimed at turning Adnams' eponymous ale into a national brand, adding: "It is plain that the background of a falling national beer market is not conducive to an expansionist strategy."

The investor also criticises the brewer's launch of Cellar&Kitchen, a chain of shops selling kitchenware and wine. It describes the venture as "far removed from the company's core competencies as a regional brewer and owner of pubs".

Jonathan Adnams dismissed many of the claims as "inaccurate" and said the company's strategy was focused on "maximising long-term value for all shareholders".

Adnams' shareholders have also received a letter from the Board rejecting points made in a letter from GPG ahead of the AGM on Monday.

It asserts that its strategy of expanding outside East Anglia, including its Cellar & Kitchen retail concept, and its national trade beer sales strategy are sound. Management accepts poor timing in gearing up the cost base in 2007 and having to unwind some of this, depressing results in 2008. That does not alter its confidence in the long-term strategy.

It rejects the claim that the "A" shares trade at a significant discount to the "B" shares, and reiterates that major shareholders, when consulted last year, were not in favour of GPG's proposed conversion of "A" shares to "B" shares.

Click here to read the letter.

Related topics: Legislation, Beer

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