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Marston's to buy Thwaites'

By thirsty hack Ignatius Rake

Posted March 31, 2015
marston's buys thwaites'
Under new ownership: A pint of Thwaites yesterday. © Marston's

CAMRA "very concerned" by Marston's £25m acquisition of Thwaites'.

London-listed brewer Marston's has announced that it is to acquire the trading operations of Daniel Thwaites' beer division in a deal expected to close this coming on April 17.

According to a Marston's press release, the acquisition has a total cash consideration of £25.1m ($37.1m) excluding working capital.

Marston's, which has been brewing Thwaites' beers since early 2014, has also "entered into a long-term exclusive agreement to supply all beer, wine, spirits and minerals" to the Thwaites' pub estate.

Thwaites', which last year had it Blackburn brewery sign changed to read "twats" after staff cuts were announced, 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", Marston's says.

The business, it continues, "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".

Indeed, in the 12 months to December 2014, Thwaites' EBITDA is estimated to have come to around £7m before overheads of approximately £2m, with Marston's stating that the deal is "expected to be earnings-enhancing in the first full year of ownership".

In the current financial year, it continues, the acquisition looks set to contribute around £1.5m in pre-tax profits.

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, the press release says, "have won numerous awards in recent years and are highly complementary to Marston's market-leading portfolio of premium craft and bottled ales".

The acquisition, it continues, "is consistent with Marston's brewing strategy to focus on popular premium ales with local and regional appeal".

"I am delighted to welcome our new colleagues to Marston's," says Marston's CEO Ralph Findlay.

"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."

Not everyone, though, is quite so happy, with the UK's Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA), for instance, expressing its concern in a separate press release.

"The Campaign for Real Ale believes that consumer choice is always reduced when breweries are acquired by larger operators and we're very concerned about the takeover of Thwaites, a long-established and respected regional family brewer, by Marston's," says CAMRA's head of communications Tom Stainer.

"While Marston's has a relatively good history of respecting brewing heritage when it has previously taken over other breweries, such as Wychwood and Jennings, CAMRA will be paying close attention to its plans for the Thwaites brands it has just acquired."

"We'd urge Marston's to ensure that the individual nature and taste of Thwaites' brands are not diluted and lost as a result of this acquisition."

See also CAMRA slams Marston's pub sell-off, posted 28/11/13.

Ignatius Rake
is a freelance journalist, geographer and world traveller who has visited more than 70 countries on six continents. In 2013, he represented the UK at the Fourth Annual Smoke's Poutinerie World Poutine Eating Championship in Toronto, coming an abysmal last and getting his arse royally whipped by Rake & Herald reader and Major League Eating speedscarfing supremo Joey 'Jaws' Chestnut. He has been known to like a pint.

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