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 Fuller’s want to sell? It’s a highly successful business with profits of around £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 Fuller’s to join the well-worn path of brewers selling their production plants and becoming pub retailers. As some critics of Fuller’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 Fuller’s, as a brewery, will stagnate. What will motivate disenfranchised staff to try new things, or throw themselves into reviving old recipes? It’s been hard to find London Porter in any format for a couple of years – 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 don’t know how this will turn out. We’re not going to boycott Fuller’s. We’re not ‘butthurt’. But something in the relationship has changed, and we will probably end up drinking less Fuller’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.