The history and business story of Young’s

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

Forever Young’s: the London-based brewer sold its Ram Pub Company division earlier this year
Forever Young’s: the London-based brewer sold its Ram Pub Company division earlier this year

Related tags Branding + marketing Pubco + head office Tenanted + leased Multi-site pub operators Beer

Historic brewer and pub company Young’s has been a household name in London and the surrounding area since before Queen Victoria took to the throne. Here The Morning Advertiser looks at its history, acquisitions and disposals.

London-based brewer and pub operator Young’s was founded in 1831 and now runs more than 200 pubs.

Its most recent major activity was the sell-off of most of its tenanted division​, branded as Ram Pub Company, to Punch for £53m, which was announced in July this year. The group agreed to sell 56 of its 63 tenanted pubs to Punch Pubs & Co and to retain the remaining seven sites for the long term.

Young’s agreed to sell most of the Ram Pub Company’s sites having generated earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of £4.7m for the year ended 31 March 2019. 

The Ram Pub Company registered revenue of £3.3m, with an adjusted operating loss of £700,000, during the 52 weeks to 29 March 2021.

Results for Young’s, published on its website, show the pandemic took its toll on the business as it did with most businesses in the sector. It posted revenue of £90.6m in annual results recorded in 2021, a fall from £311.6m the year before. Its adjusted operating figures showed a £34m loss in 2021 versus a £46.5m profit in 2020’s results while it lost £45.2m in profits before tax in 2021 in contrast to a £29.1m profit a year before.

Beneficiary of pent-up demand 

However, in July 2021, Young’s announced trade has been booming since lockdown and further restrictions were lifted. Chairman Stephen Goodyear said the company’s London and south-east-based sites had “benefited from significant pent-up demand” when pubs reopened after England's third lockdown.

In an AGM trading statement, Goodyear announced trading had “continued to be ahead of the board’s expectations” following the publication of the group’s full year results on 20 May.

Total sales across the 13-week period from 12 April to 12 July were 95% of the same period in 2019. 

Goodyear added: “Our trading has benefited from significant pent-up demand, as well as from the major capex programme undertaken in our pubs, hotels and outdoor areas and the delivery of some truly transformational projects.”

He said he was optimistic about the balance of the financial year to March 2022.

In March 2020, Young’s donated old laptop computers to homeless people​ to help them get back on their feet and reconnect with the community.

The brewer joined forces with SocialBox.Biz, a London-based community interest venture and technology hub, to launch the Laptops for the Homeless​​ initiative, which would benefit homeless people, elderly and refugees in London and beyond.

First on-site brewery in 20-plus years 

In September 2019, the Ram Inn was set to reopen as the first Young’s site to have an on-site brewery since its brewing operations merger with Charles Wells​ took place in 2006.

The Wandsworth site’s licensees Keris and Lee De Villiers were taking over the former Brewery Tap pub, which had seen brewing on its site since 1533 and said its first brew would be called ‘1533’ in tribute.

At the same time, Young’s also produced two new brews​ of its own to celebrate its 188th​ anniversary. The new beers were ‘Head on’ Indian pale lager, a mix between a hoppy IPA and a crisp lager; and ‘Cityscape’, a “punchy” golden ale.

It also launched a new brand identity for its beer operation, which focuses on the capital city and its residents’ “charge-on” attitude. The branding also incorporates the company’s recognisable ram imagery. 

Young’s chief executive Patrick Dardis said at the time, the launch would help set the brand apart from its competitors. He said: “We are delighted to celebrate our 188th birthday. As an iconic pub operator that proudly serves at the heart of many local communities, we love exciting and delighting our customers with our premium offer and well-invested, differentiated pubs.”

Young’s made a major portfolio purchase in January 2019 when it acquired Dan Shotton and Mark Draper-founded Redcomb Pubs for £34m​.

The 15-strong operation would push Young’s managed estate to 200 sites. It was sold to Young’s on a cash-free and debt-free basis. Figures reported in October 2018 revealed Redcomb’s turnover reached £16.7m for the year ending 30 June, representing a 10.6% increase year-on-year, with profits rising by 11.9%.

Young’s chief executive Patrick Dardis said at the time: “The team at Redcomb has created an outstanding, well-invested estate of pubs, which we are delighted to add to the Young’s fold. The acquisition of these pubs represents an excellent opportunity to continue the growth of the Young’s managed estate. They fit very well with our expansion strategy which is focused on high-quality managed houses.”

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