Marston’s buys Thwaites’ brewing arm

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Pubs giant Marston’s is buying the main brewing arm of historic Lancashire firm Daniel Thwaites in a £25.1 million deal.

The acquisition includes Thwaites’ Wainwright and Lancaster Bomber ales. Marston’s has been brewing Thwaites’ beers since early last year, after the Lancashire firm announced it was shutting down its main brewery in Blackburn.

Ralph Findlay, chief executive of Marston’s, said: “I am delighted to welcome our new colleagues to Marston’s. 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.”

Marston’s will secure both Thwaites’ beers and the firm’s 150-strong team of regional sales, marketing and distribution staff.

Tom Stainer of the Campaign for Real Ale said: “We believe 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.

“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.”

The Daniel Thwaites business, which has been brewing since 1807, will continue as a pub and hotels operation with a 300-strong estate.

A Marston’s spokesman said most of the 150 Thwaites staff will transfer over to the company, while the pubs will sell the same beer, as well as Marston’s brands including Pedigree and Hobgoblin.

“Customers won’t see any change in the beers, although we will be able to supply a wider range,” he said.