Surprising news came down late Friday that Fuller, Smith & Turner Brewing, better known as just Fuller’s had agreed to sell it’s brewery and brands (but not pubs) to Asahi UK.
Roger Protz takes a look at some of the business issues that may have led to the sale:
The second burning question is: Why did Fullerâ€™s want to sell? Itâ€™s a highly successful business with profits of around Â£43 million a year.
But 90 per cent of the profits come from retailing. Profits from brewing have been falling for several years and this has led Fullerâ€™s to join the well-worn path of brewers selling their production plants and becoming pub retailers. As some critics of Fullerâ€™s have suggested, the writing has been on the wall for some time as the company busily built its retail side. As a result, it now owns more hotels than pubs.
While Boak & Bailey take a look at the more personal feelings the come around when a well respected and trusted brewery “sells out” and disappoints long loving fans:
And we worry about whether this means Fullerâ€™s, as a brewery, will stagnate. What will motivate disenfranchised staff to try new things, or throw themselves into reviving old recipes? Itâ€™s been hard to find London Porter in any format for a couple of years â€“ will this finally kill it off for good, along with poor old Chiswick? Look at Meantime: the quality or the core beer may be good, but the breadth of the offer is now distressingly bland.
We donâ€™t know how this will turn out. Weâ€™re not going to boycott Fullerâ€™s. Weâ€™re not â€˜butthurtâ€™. But something in the relationship has changed, and we will probably end up drinking less Fullerâ€™s beer without thinking much about it.
Even Fuller’s own head brewer seemed a bit distressed:
All in all it’s a key turning point for London’s most storied brewery. I, personally a huge fan of Fuller’s, am hoping it’s be beginning of a fantastic new chapter.