Breweries raise a glass to joint venture plans

Jun 01, 2020

PUB operator and brewing company Marstons plc, which took over Bedford-based Charles Wells in 2017, has announced plans to form a joint venture company with fellow brewer Carlsberg UK.

The new Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company aims to deliver a portfolio of international, national and regional beer brands. Carlsberg is famous for lager and world beer brands while Marston’s is one of the UK’s leading brewers of premium cask and packaged ales.

The proposed joint venture is subject to Marston’s plc shareholder approval and competition clearance. Consultation will take place with all Marston’s Beer Company employees in relation to the transfer of their employment. It is anticipated that the transaction will complete in Q3 of this year.

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company will have assets including Carlsberg UK’s Northampton brewery, London Fields brewery and national distribution centre, Marston’s six breweries including the Eagle Brewery in Bedford – where it brews Bombardier, Courage and Young’s beers as well as Scottish brands McEwan’s and William Younger – and 11 distribution depots. 

Carlsberg’s brewery in Northampton

Carlsberg UK and Marston’s plc will be the sole stakeholders in the proposed new company. Carlsberg UK will own 60% of the equity and Carlsberg UK’s managing director Tomasz Blawat, will become chief executive of Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company.

Marston’s current chief executive Ralph Findlay will be non-executive chairman of the new business, with Richard Westwood, Marston’s managing director, appointed as chief operating officer, integration. 

Tomasz Blawat, Carlsberg UK managing director who is set to become CEO of the new venture.

Mr Blawat said: “Our intent for Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company is for it to become a platform for growth for all of our customers and suppliers, offering a bigger beer portfolio of complementary international, national and regional brands.

“We believe the new business will deliver even more value for employees, customers and consumers, thereby creating greater future growth potential.” 

Mr Findlay added: “Marston’s strong heritage, extensive distribution platform and established reputation for brewing and logistics excellence, together with Carlsberg UK’s global brand portfolio and scale, combine the best attributes of both to create a compelling beer business with an outstanding portfolio of global and local beer brands, proven brewing expertise, strong distribution network and wholesale opportunity.” 

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company will also have access to Marston’s pub estate for its beer portfolio through a strategic, long-term supply and distribution agreement. 

The planned new venture is part of Carlsberg’s UK growth strategy, following the relaunch of Carlsberg Danish Pilsner in the UK last year. “We are now building a new beer company by combining two organisations with shared values and strong history and heritage in brewing,” said Mr Blawat.  

Until the deal is finalised it will remain business as usual for both companies, he added.

Marston’s plc operates a chain of around 1,400 pubs in the UK and brews premium cask and packaged ales, including Hobgoblin, Wainwright, Marston’s Pedigree and 61 Deep. Marston’s also operate a number of brands under licence and distribution agreements with global brand owners such as Estrella Damm, Shipyard, Erdinger, Warsteiner and Kirin.

It completed the £55 million acquisition of brewery and pub operator Charles Wells, whose headquarters were at Havelock Road in Bedford, in 2017.

Carlsberg UK brands include Carlsberg Danish Pilsner, Carlsberg Expørt, Poretti, Tetley’s, Somersby cider and the London Fields Brewery craft portfolio, brewed in Hackney, London. It also holds the brand licences in the UK for San Miguel, Mahou and the Brooklyn Brewery craft beer portfolio. 

by ANDREW GIBBS e: news@businessmk.co.uk

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