West Berks Brewery founders sell shares

By John Harrington

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags West berkshire brewery Public house Beer

David Bruce says he will not operate pubs under West Berks Brewery
David Bruce says he will not operate pubs under West Berks Brewery
Brewing and pub veteran David Bruce has ruled out operating pubs under the West Berkshire Brewery, which has just completed the sale of £1.2m of shares owned by its four founders.

Bruce, who has become executive chairman of the brewer after taking the chairmanship last year, also said he expects to either float the business on AIM or oversee a trade sale in three to five years’ time.

The founders have sold much of their stake to 260 new shareholders, predominately family and friends of the company and drinkers from Berkshire and surrounding counties.

The new shareholders have a 34% stake, leaving the four founders - Dave and Helen Maggs and Andrew and Karen Baum - with 38% between them. Bruce, who has invested £150,000 in total, has a c10% stake, with another investor on 16%. Employees also own shares.

Bruce told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​’s sister title M&C Report​: “Now we’ve got that fundraising exercise out of the way we may well do a new fundraising for the company, but at the moment we don’t need to.”

Sales boom

West Berkshire Brewery was founded in 1995 and sales in the year to date are up 25%, with production up 40% It produces c120 to 150 barrels a week.

Bruce told M&C Report​ last year that he may look to acquire pubs for the venture at some point, although there would be no Enterprise Investment Scheme fundraising to do so while City Pub Company, of which he’s a co-founder, is also looking to raise funds for pub acquisitions.

But he said this week: “Now this fundraising is over I’m not ever going to do a West Berkshire Brewery pubco in any form.” The firm’s only pub, the Rising Sun near Newbury, has closed.

Bruce cited as a model either Sharp’s, the Doom Bar brewer that was sold to Molson Coors, or Black Sheep, which has no pubs but sells beer across the country, and said a trade sale or flotation on AIM is most likely.

“We will do the usual exit, probably in three to five years’ time. We’re going to work our socks off to build up the value of the brand,” Bruce stated.

Its beers are currently stocked in 450 outlets, and recently secured a guest beer listing with Enterprise Inns in the southern region. It also has listings with Fortnum & Mason, Waitrose and Majestic Wine.

Bruce added: “We are seriously thinking about export. We’ve had enquires already from India and China and America.”

Related topics Beer

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