Mike Benner, Camra’s Chief Executive, said: “The relentless obsession with pushing global lager brands is a failing strategy in the UK beer market, and this is fuelling consolidation and hitting profits hard. The inevitable result of consolidation is brewery closures, brand losses and less choice for Britain’s consumers.”
Mr Benner added: “The deal raises many questions for real ale drinkers in the UK. What impact will this have on traditional real ales such as John Smith’s, and smaller regional brands such as Magnet? We will be seeking reassurances from the new owners that they will invest in their real ale brands and breweries to meet the demands of today’s beer drinkers, who are increasingly demanding real ale.”
Camra is concerned about the impact the takeover could have on WaverleyTBS, a major distributor of real ales, the contract brewing of Theakston’s Best Bitter and the partnership with the Caledonian Brewing Company.
It’s expected that the takeover will be considered by the European Commission, and Camra is calling for an in-depth review of competition and consumer choice in the EU beer market.
Mike Benner continued: “The lager-led approach of the global brewers has been flawed for years, and consumers demand choice, quality and provenance. Fortunately, the increasing number of small and independent real ale breweries in the UK are rising up to fill the void in the market, where demand for local and regional beer continues to grow.”
Bob Stukins, Camra’s Director of Breweries Campaigning, said: “This is a sad day for British brewing. S&N was the last remaining major brewer in British hands and the deal is unlikely to show any benefits for consumers.”
S&N’s main real ale brand is John Smith’s cask. However, it also brews Theakston’s Best Bitter on behalf of T&R Theakston, and owns 30% of Scottish brewery Caledonian’s brands. Camra will be seeking assurances from the new owners that these enterprises will be preserved.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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