Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Thwaites Brewing Division Takes The Knock


Marstons have bought Daniel Thwaites Brewing Division it was announced today:

Marston’s buys Daniel Thwaites brewing division operation:Marston’s has reached agreement with Daniel Thwaites to acquire the trading operations of Thwaites’ beer division. The acquisition includes two leading, premium brands: Wainwright and Lancaster Bomber ales. The total cash consideration is £25.1 million excluding working capital. Marston’s has been brewing Thwaites’ beers since early 2014. As part of this acquisition, it has entered into a long-term exclusive agreement to supply all beer, wine, spirits and minerals to Thwaites’ pub estate. Thwaites’ beer division is a high quality sales business of scale concentrated in the North West of England, including a 150-strong team of regional sales, marketing and distribution staff operating in the Independent Free Trade, National On Trade and National Off Trade channels. The business has shown good growth in recent years, including the acquisition of Hydes Brewery’s free trade business in 2012, which increased Thwaites’ business in Manchester. Thwaites’ two principal beer brands are Wainwright, one of the most popular golden cask ales in the UK and Lancaster Bomber, a premium ale. Both brands have won numerous awards in recent years and are highly complementary to Marston’s market-leading portfolio of premium craft and bottled ales. This acquisition is consistent with Marston’s brewing strategy to focus on popular premium ales with local and regional appeal, and provides an opportunity to capitalise on the developing free trade market and wider consumer interest in the beer category. The transaction is expected to complete on 17 April 2015. In the 12 months to December 2014 Ebitda is estimated to have been around £7 million before overheads of approximately £2 million. The acquisition is expected to be earnings-enhancing in the first full year of ownership; in the current financial year it is estimated that the contribution to profit before taxation will be around £1.5 million. Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, said: “I am delighted to welcome our new colleagues to Marston’s. We are acquiring a very high quality business with good people and brands, and with growth potential. The acquisition is consistent with our beer business strategy to focus on local provenance and premium brands, and provides opportunity to capitalise on the developing free trade market and increasing consumer interest in the beer category.”

While extremely disappointing news in some ways, this hardly comes as a shock to those of us in the North West.  The writing has been on the wall since Thwaites first of all announced several years ago that it would move out of the Star Brewery Blackburn to a new green field site and sell the existing site to Sainsbury's. Years then passed with no progress and in 2012 the brewery was closed as "obsolete" without finding a new one.  With the exception of Crafty Dan brands, the beer was outsourced to, yes, you've guessed, Marstons. Thwaites then announced a new brewery after all and then maintained a deafening silence on the whole matter. I wrote about the brewery here in less than glowing terms and here in a lot more positive ones.  Seems my enthusiasm was somewhat misplaced. Thwaites will continue as a Pub and Hotel Company though one has to wonder for how long?  The record of such Pub Companies is quick demise though admittedly these are changed times, so who knows? Maybe it is a smarter move than it first appears?

However, oddly, it seems that all is not lost brewing wise.  According to the Wolverhampton Express and Star (Thwaites beers are largely brewed in Wolverhampton by Banks')  "Thwaites has retained ownership of craft beer brands and other cask ale brands, including its seasonal ale range, which it will continue to brew and sell in its’ own properties. Daniel Thwaites’ chief executive Richard Bailey said: “This is a very exciting development which allows us to focus on our pubs, inns and hotels, whilst retaining a small brewery to continue to supply our own properties with our fantastic beers and opening up a wider drinks range to our customers through a long term supply deal with Marston’s.


So as you were in some ways, though where these beers will be brewed isn't clear.  We'll have to wait and see.

It is odd that Thwaites refer to their beer brands as "Third Party Brewing Business". Well they are now I suppose.

8 comments:

Tyson said...

No big surprise but they've been less than transparent since the beginning of this saga. They must have been in negotiation for some time but were somewhat economical with the truth.

History tells us that they won't last long as a pubco. You only have to look at their neighbours and one time rivals Mitchells to see what happens in these cases. Greene King have been stalking Thwaites for years and this move can only embolden the likes of them.

Curmudgeon said...

Brewing some beers themselves, contracting others out to Marston's, and selling their top two brands outright, doesn't exactly look like a stable solution.

Tandleman said...

Allows them to wriggle out of the new brewery of course.

Cooking Lager said...

They could have done that anyway, just build it with a really small door.

Anonymous said...

Lancaster Bomber will soon be on its third brewer. It was originally brewed by Mitchell's of Lancaster who sold their brewing arm to Thwaites. Thwaites have now sold their brewing arm to Martsons

Paul Bailey said...

Sad to read about Thwaites, although I’m not really surprised. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but Daniel Thwaites’s Star Brewery in Blackburn was the first brewery I visited.

It was one of the most modern in the country at the time (1974), and considered to be really state of the art. How times change.

Anonymous said...

What volume are the craft brands currently doing? Enough to sneak under the PBD threshold?

Mike said...

I went round Crafty Dan 2 years ago, 20 Brl brew length and 4 Fermenters if memory serves right