Decision on future of cask ales brewing in Wolverhampton awaited

Decision on future of cask ales brewing in Wolverhampton awaited

The brewery is part of Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company, which was formed in 2020 from a joint venture.

Now that Marston’s has sold its 40 per cent stake to Carlsberg for £206 million and the Danish brewing giant has bought soft drinks group Britvic for £3.3 billion, the Wolverhampton operation will become part of a new Carlsberg Britvic company.

The company will continue to be called Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company until the deals are completed. The Marston’s deal is subject to Marston’s shareholder approval.

Cask beer fans will be hoping that Carlsberg will prove to be a good custodian of beers such as Banks’s Original, Marston’s Pedigree and Hobgoblin.

CMBC said a detailed review of the business will be conducted after the deal closes and that it will share further plans with its employees and stakeholders “when appropriate”.

Marston’s brewery also includes Burton upon Trent in Staffordshire, where additional space has been created at the Shobnall Road brewery by removing the traditional Union sets used to brew Pedigree.

Sian Roberts, sales and marketing director at the Black Country Chamber of Commerce, said: “The Marston’s name has a strong Black Country tradition, having been brewing beer in Wolverhampton since 1875.

“Marston’s decision to exit the brewing sector and focus on running its pubs is a further reflection of the way the hospitality sector continues to evolve.

“The Black Country economy is powered by the presence of leading brands that the public know and trust, and we look forward to seeing Carlsberg shape the next chapter in this proud local brewing history as Marston’s focuses on operating its pubs from its Wolverhampton headquarters.”

Marston’s shares rose as much as 18 percent on Monday after the announcement, but fell again on Tuesday.

The group, whose headquarters are at St John’s House in Wolverhampton, will concentrate on running the pubs and will no longer be involved in brewing beer.

Proceeds from the sale will help reduce Marston’s debt.

The company is also selling non-core pubs and unlicensed sites to reduce its debt burden, which it expects to generate £50m this year.

The sale to Carlsberg follows changes at the top of the company, with Justin Platt replacing Andrew Andrea as CEO in January and new non-executive chairman Ken Lever announced last week.

The future of the 149-year-old Chapel Ash brewery, which makes Banks’ beers, and the adjacent Marston’s House in Wolverhampton will be determined once the deal is completed, which is expected in the third quarter of this year.

The Campaign for Real Ale has expressed fears for the future of British beers, brands and breweries following the announcement.

Nik Antona, national chairman of CAMRA, said: It is a worrying development for Britain’s brewing heritage as Marston’s remaining brewing assets are being transferred to a global brewing company that has already closed historic breweries such as Jennings in Cumbria and Charles Wells Eagle in Bedford, stopped selling cask ales in Scotland and introduced a deeply damaging ‘fresh beer’ concept that is misleading to pub-goers and threatens the future of British cask-conditioned beer.

“The consolidation of the brewing sector into just a few large, international players is eroding our brewing heritage, consumer choice, the diversity of beer in pubs across the country and access to the market for small, independent producers.

“The fact that Marston’s pubs are still subject to an anti-competitive supply undertaking from Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company is also a concern as it limits customers’ choice of great locally produced beer and cider from independent producers across the country.

“The bosses of Marston’s and CMBC must commit to the future of cask brewing, improve consumer choice at the bar, protect Britain’s brewing heritage and abolish their damaging concept of fresh beer once and for all.”