James Clay snaps up Beer Direct distributor

By James Beeson

- Last updated on GMT

Growth drive: James Clay hopes the acquisition will help expand its reach in the Midlands
Growth drive: James Clay hopes the acquisition will help expand its reach in the Midlands
Craft and specialist beer distributor James Clay is set to expand its reach in the Midlands following the acquisition of regional distributor Beer Direct.

The deal will see James Clay assume all Beer Direct operations from today (4 June) and will trade as James Clay going forwards.

The Beer Direct range will remain in place initially, before being expanded to introduce James Clay’s wider offering. Prices to customers will also be aligned to ensure they share the benefits of the deal.

The acquisition of Beer Direct is James Clay’s second major expansion, the first being the acquisition of the wholesale arm of London beer specialist Utobeer. To ensure a smooth transitional period, Martin Johnson, Beer Direct’s founder and managing director, will take on a consultancy role.

'Tireless dedication'

Speaking about the deal, James Clay, business development director at James Clay, said: "We’ve worked closely with Beer Direct for over 25 years as an independent business who share our philosophies and values. Martin shares our ambition of connecting customers with the world’s greatest beers and we’re honoured he trusts us to ensure the business thrives for decades to come.

“We respect the excellent work of our other distribution partners in the area, and remain committed to working alongside them to develop quality beer in the region. We thank Martin for his tireless dedication to great beer, and wish him the very best in a richly deserved retirement.”

Beer Direct's Johnson added: "We’re confident that James Clay is the best company to take Beer Direct forward, and feel certain this transition will benefit pubs, bars and bottle shops in the region. We want to thank all our customers for their loyalty over the past 27 years, and reassure them that James Clay’s commitment to quality beer puts them in safe hands for the future.”

Belgian influence

James Clay, founded in West Yorkshire, is a family-owned business entering its fourth decade of trading. The company operates not only as a distributor but also an importer and brand manager, with UK responsibility for breweries such as Stone Brewing, Erdinger Weißbrau, and Anchor Brewing Co.

Beer Direct was founded in 1991 by Martin Johnson and Brian Pettit and supplies a range of beers, ciders and jenevers to a variety of trade sites. It was part of a generation of importers which first popularised Belgian beer in the UK, paving the way for today’s diverse and specialist beer scene.

Based in Stoke-on-Trent, its heartland is the Midlands and it specialises in bringing the eclectic European beer culture to discerning drinkers across the UK.

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