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Fuller's chief executive Simon Emeny, taking part in a mass updating of London Pride pumpclips in 2017: better prospects now seen for upmarket pubs, hotels
 

BREAKING: Fuller’s to sell beer business to Asahi Europe 

Fuller’s has surprised the industry this morning, announcing that it has reached an agreement to sell its beer business to Asahi Europe Ltd for £250 million.

Included in the package of assets are the entirety of Fuller’s beer, cider and soft drinks brewing and production, wine wholesaling, and distribution. This includes the Griffin brewery in west London as well as recent acquisitions Cornish Orchards, Dark Star Brewing and drinks wholesaler Nectar Imports. 

The sale includes Fuller’s beer brands with Asahi Europe receiving a licence on a perpetual, global, exclusive and royalty free basis to use certain trademarks, including the Fuller’s name and logo. (Ownership of the trademarks is to remain with Fuller’s.) 

Much like former London rival Young’s more than a decade past when it exited brewing in Wandsworth in favour of a partnership with Charles Wells, going forward Fuller’s sees its best prospects in retail, with it a premium pub and hotel operator. Fuller’s noted in this morning’s announcement to the London Stock Exchange that retail accounts for 87% of its operating profit. 

Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said that the transaction will secure both parts of the business, including the heritage of the Fuller’s Brewery in Chiswick, “which was particularly important to the Fuller’s Board.”

In this morning’s statement to the stock exchange, Emeny continued, “We remain incredibly proud of the Fuller’s Beer Business, its history and the high-quality premium beer and cider portfolio that we have developed. Brewing has formed an integral part of our history and brand identity, however the core of Fuller’s and the driver of our future growth is now our premium pubs and hotels business.

“Asahi, as a company recognised for brewing excellence, is an appropriate custodian of our rich brewing history and the Griffin Brewery, and will ensure the Fuller’s Beer Business brands will reach an even wider global audience.”

There is to be a long-term supply agreement with Asahi to ensure that its brands will be available to its estate. 

Akiyoshi Koji, CEO of Asahi Group Holdings, the parent company of Asahi Europe, said that Fuller’s brands and brewing business had long been admired. 

“Fuller’s is one of the few brewers that show the same genuine commitment to brewing excellence and quality that we do. We strongly believe that the brands of the Beer Business, including London Pride, Frontier and Cornish Orchards among others, complement our premium portfolio in the UK market.”

For Asahi the Fuller’s brand portfolio, in particular London Pride, has “untapped international potential” that with its scale and global network it will look to develop further. 

Asahi already owns one other brewery in London, Meantime, which it acquired along with international lager brands Grosch and Peroni in the shake out of the AB InBev acquisition of SABMiller in 2016.

In addition to the Griffin Brewery, where brewing has taken place continuously since 1654, the deal includes production facilities located in Cornwall and Sussex, those of Cornish Orchards and Dark Star Brewing respectively. Asahi Europe will also take control of a distribution centre located in Horndean and a head office and distribution centre in Wiltshire.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2019. 

Larry Nelson
25th January 2019

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