It was announced last week that the brewing arm of Marston’s is being combined with that of Carlsberg to create the Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company.
Richard Westwood, the managing director of Marston’s Beer Company, today said the deal was good news for the region that it would be the home of the head office of the new business.
“When the Covid-19 crisis is over we will also be launching an exciting new beer from Wolverhampton,” said the former head brewer, who has been with the business since 1976.
Mr Westwood, who will be chief operating officer of the new Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company joint venture when the deal completes in September, said: “It is a positive move and there is very much a plan for growth.
“What we have learned over the last five to 10 years is that in the beer market people love choice and authentic beers with true provenance.”
Mr Westwood said that Marston’s had a track record of buying breweries and keeping them open and continuing to brew beers at their brewery of origin, with a high level of authenticity and head brewers being by and large kept in place.
“I see a continuation of that in the joint venture – I don’t see any risk to local breweries," he said.
“We have some really strong local brands like Banks’s in Wolverhampton and there is no way in this particular deal that anyone would be able to close the Park Brewery. It is too big, efficent and flexible. It is a key jewel in the crown of the new company.”
The former Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries has continued to buy breweries around the country to add to the Victorian Park Brewery at Wolverhampton’s Chapel Ash where Banks’s beers have been brewed since 1875
Mr Westwood said that the joint venture brought together two completely complementary brewing operations.
“We are strong in ale and weak in lager and they are the reverse,” he explained.
Marston’s, which has its headquarters at Marston’s House, Brewery Road, Chapel Ash, has grown over the years to have more than 14,000 employees and has an estate of around 1,500 pubs across the UK.
The beer company has 1,600 staff which, will be combined with the 1,000 employed by Carlsberg
Mr Westwood said that in the short term there were likely to be some changes to working environment at Wolverhampton as people returned to work after Covid-19 with the need for social distancing.
He said that as the head office all of the future back office, finance and warehousing facility would be in Wolverhampton.
“There may be scope for new jobs with a bigger operation,” he added.
The changes to create the new head office will be taking effect in the next three to six months and will rely on new IT systems being put in place at Marston’s House.
Mr Westwood said: “For a minimum of a year there will be a a transitional services arrangement between Carlsberg Marston’s and Marston’s Plc where we as a joint venture will be utilising assets of the Plc until the new systems have been built.”
Marston’s will have a 40 per cent shareholding in the joint venture, which will have a 20-year supply agreement to provide beers for Marston’s pubs and restaurants estate as well as that of Carlsberg.
The new company will take in the London Fields craft brewery as well as the Carlsberg lager brewing operation and Marston’s six breweries: Banks’s, Marston’s in Burton upon Trent, Wychwood in Oxfordshire, Jennings in Cumbria, Ringwood in Hampshire and Eagle – the former Charles Wells Brewery – in Bedford
Marston’s was created after Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries bought the Burton business in 1999 and Mr Westwood stressed: “We have a strong history of keeping breweries open and building the brands. Marston’s now includes some of the leading premium bottled ales in the country.
"We are by far the market leader with 26 per cent of the market share, led by Hobgoblin in both bottle and can and Banks’s and Marston’s Pedigree.”
The deal gives big opportunities to grow sales in the independent free trade where Marston’s currently has 5,500 sites and Carlsberg 4,500.
“We will be able to put the Marson’s portfolio into many more pubs,” added Mr Westwood, who also said that the increased scale of the new company there would be scope to bring more new beers to the market as it became more cost effective and less of a risk.
“It is an expensive game, but joining forces with Carlsberg gives us a whole new scale and also wider technical expertise and a wider market to try out beers and build brands.”