The appointment follows last year’s decision by Charles Bartholomew - a descendent of one of the original founders of the company - to step down from his dual role of managing director and executive chairman.
Bartholomew will continue in the role of non-executive Chairman, but Welham will lead the organisation into its next stage of growth.
“I am delighted that Chris has agreed to join us as CEO. He is the ideal person to lead Wadworth going forward at a time when we are seeking to grow our managed and tenanted business,” said Bartholomew.
“He will also be working to further enhance the sales and distribution of our award-winning portfolio of beers which are brewed at our brewery. Under his leadership I am confident that we will continue to honour the heritage of our business whilst at the same time moving forward to meet the demands of modern consumers.”
Alongside his time at Spirit, Welham also brings experience from roles at Greene King and as a non-executive director with the British Institute of Innkeeping.
He said: “This is a really exciting opportunity for me and I am greatly looking forward to starting the new role in November.
“It’s also an exciting time for Wadworth and the brewing industry as a whole. Recent reports reveal a significant swing to real ale among younger drinkers. I am delighted to be joining a company with such a distinguished history and such strong potential for growth for both its beer brands and pub business.”
Wadworth currently operates some 240 pubs in the South and South West of England and brews beers including Wadworth 6X, Corvus stout and Swordfish rum beer.
The company is also one of the last to still make daily beer deliveries by shire horse and dray to local pubs - and has a studio where pub signs are still hand painted in the traditional fashion. It also has a very successful award-winning visitor centre.