Greene King labels founder profiting from slavery ‘inexcusable’

By Nikkie Thatcher

- Last updated on GMT

Pubco history: Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene
Pubco history: Greene King was founded in 1799 by Benjamin Greene

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Brewer and pub operator Greene King has described the revelation that one of its founders profited from 19th century slavery and argued against its abolition as “inexcusable”.

Greene King's website says the company was founded by Benjamin Greene in 1799 in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk, before handed over the Greene’s Brewery to his son Edward in 1836.

After founding the brewery, Benjamin Greene  went on to own cane sugar plantations in the West Indies where he was slave owner.

Unpopular views

The pubco’s website also stated that in the 1800s, Greene’s views on slavery were unpopular and that in the brewery’s home of Bury St Edmunds, he penned newspaper columns that were critical of those campaigning for the abolition of slavery.

According to findings from a University College London database revealed in The Telegraph​, Greene received almost half a million pounds (£500,000) at today’s rate when he surrendered rights to three plantations in the West Indies.

Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s."

Present focus

Mackenzie added: “While that is a part of our history, we are now focused on the present and future. Today, I am proud we employ 38,000 people across the UK from all backgrounds and that racism and discrimination have no place at Greene King.

“We don’t have all the answers so that is why we are taking the time to listen and learn from all the voices, including our team members and charity partners as we strengthen our diversity and inclusion work.

“We plan to make a substantial investment to benefit the black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) community and support our race diversity in the business as we increase our focus on targeted work in this area.”

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