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Tuckers to exit malting barley: no longer able to compete on price with larger modern maltings

Tuckers to shut down floor malting business

One of the country’s last four surviving floor maltings is to close in October after 118 years of operation.

Tuckers at Newton Abbott in Devon currently supplies some 40 breweries but in a letter to them admitted that “operating on this scale has finally proved to be uncompetitive in the modern world.”

Richard Wheeler, chairman of parent company Edwin Tucker & Sons, told The Brewery Manual that the maltings is “on the point of losing money” after recently losing some customers, and is unable to compete on price with larger modern maltings.

“Over the last 30 years we have done very well trading with new microbreweries, but there have been warning signs for the past two or three as smaller brewers have closed or been taken over.

“And when they are successful and grow, price becomes everything. We can argue that our malt is worth paying a premium for, but they’re just saying that’s nonsense.

“A lot of loyal local businesses we supply are extremely upset at the news, but they are small in terms of the volumes they buy.”

Tuckers is the smallest maltings in the UK “by a large margin,” he added. “We are extremely labour intensive, and while our gas-fired boilers are very efficient they are 40 years old now. Gas consumption is horrendous and to upgrade them would be a huge investment.

“So it’s not stacking up for us, and the professional advice we’ve had is that it is wise to make this decision while the business is sound and closure can be achieved in an organised way.”

Eight employees are being made redundant, and Edwin Tucker is looking for a buyer for the site. Its two country store retail outlets in Ashburton and Crediton are “doing extremely well” and will continue to trade.

Brewers took to Twitter to mourn the passing of Tuckers.

Exe Valley Brewery, which has been supplied by the firm since it started in 1984, said it was “gutted” at the news, describing it as “a big loss to the brewing industry”.

Sally Molloy, brewer at neighbouring Platform 5 Brewing, said she was “incredibly sad to hear of the closure of Tuckers Maltings. A huge loss for Newton Abbott and brewing.”

Phil Mellows
8th June 2018

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