I’ve been working in this industry for more than 30 years and it’s fair to say, today, things look very different to the industry I joined. The landscape has constantly evolved as the large global brewers expanded, and pub estates changed ownership from brewers to pub companies and back again.
Of course, Fuller’s too has changed over the years – thanks to some very shrewd business dealings by the family team. The acquisition of 44 pubs from Allied Domecq in 1990 and the sale in 2000, with amazing foresight, of our 60 wine shops to Unwins. Then in 2005, there was the purchase of Gales, with 111 pubs, that took us in a whole new geographical direction and cemented our position as a leading pub operator.
Sense of pride
But despite these excellent strategic decisions over time, none generated the same level of shock as the decision to sell The Fuller’s Beer Company.
So why was it so different? I think if you speak to anyone who works at Fuller’s, be they in Chiswick or out in the pubs, there is just an enormous emotional sense of pride that is associated with the amazing beers that come out of the Griffin Brewery.
We will continue to feel that sense of pride. Asahi has a history of developing premium brands, like Peroni and Pilsner Urquell. It will be great to see our wonderful beer brands taken to a higher level by their new international owners.
For Fuller, Smith & Turner going forwards, we now have to focus on maintaining our special culture, that started with the brewery, and create an environment where our customers won’t even notice that anything has changed.
To be honest, it’s a challenge we relish. We’ve already started with our values – and it was reassuring to discover they needed little change. All our values revolve around a sense of pride that is evident throughout our estate and our head office. And with time and the team now totally focused on delivering an outstanding customer experience and on innovating to stay ahead of the game, we are in a very strong position for the future.
So, as we enter what can only be described as a transitional year, I feel very confident about the future. Taking the decision to sell the brewery was incredibly difficult for all involved – but we have completed that process successfully and now we move on.
The result of all this will be even better pubs, with great atmosphere and personality, excellent design, delicious and innovative food and a fantastic range of Fuller’s, and other brewers’, beers on the bar – all delivered by an outstanding team of people with genuine pride and passion for the pubs they run and the beers they sell. And that sounds like good news for our teams and our customers.