The group business, including Ossett Brewery and its 26 retail sites - comprising 19 traditional pubs and restaurants, four ale and live music bars trading as The HOP, its own city centre Craft Asylum-branded bars, and the recently formed new business of Salt Beer Factory - will continue to be led by co-owner and pub company founder Jamie Lawson, while the award-winning brewery's founder Bob Lawson will remain as non-executive chairman.
The new co-owner of the company, Mark Hunter, is a co-founder of Leeds based IT and business consultancy BJSS. This acquisition sees him making his first inroads into the pub and brewing industries.
Through growing BJSS, and working with clients such as the NHS, government departments, leading FTSE companies and platforms for the Paris and Vienna stock exchanges in the process, Hunter has amassed strategic business experience at board level in a company that employs more than 1,000 people.
Hunter will take a seat on the board but will not form part of the day-to-day operational management team.
Licensed property agents Simon Hall at Fleurets and James Boshier advised the parties on the transaction.
'Grown beyond recognition'
Discussing the sale, Jamie Lawson commented: “Since my father founded the brewery in 1998, and I founded the pub company in 2003, we have grown beyond all recognition and merged into one group in 2016.
“Taking on a business partner with Mark’s experience at this time will provide funding and knowledge for the next, really exciting chapter of our growth.
“Our strategy is to take advantage of our newly developed and modernised brewery in Ossett through increased production while growing our freehold Ossett pub estate.
“Salt Beer Factory, based in the UNESCO village of Saltaire, will begin canning its own products in 2019, with exciting new IPA and lager products in keg and canned format.
“Salt also plans to open new Craft Asylum sites next year after the success of the first two sites in Leeds city centre.”
As reported by The Morning Advertiser, the Salt Beer Factory opened in Saltaire in Bradford, West Yorkshire, on 2 November following a £1.7m investment from Ossett Brewery.