Marston’s sale to Carlsberg ‘worrying development for British brewing’

By William Dodds

- Last updated on GMT

Marston's sold its 40% stake in Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company for £206m. Credit: Getty / STasker
Marston's sold its 40% stake in Carlsberg Marston's Brewing Company for £206m. Credit: Getty / STasker
Concerns have been raised about the trajectory of the UK brewing industry after Marston’s sold its stake in Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC).

In a deal worth £206m, Carlsberg consolidated control over its UK brewing operations by purchasing Marston’s remaining 40% stake in CMBC. This move came alongside Carlsberg’s £3.3bn acquisition of Britvic.

Marston’s has said it will now shift focus to its pub business, although the move ends almost 200 years of brewing heritage which began with Banks and Company at the Park brewery, Wolverhampton in 1875.

In response to the move, Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) chair Nik Antona described the sale as a “worrying development for Britain’s brewing heritage”.

“Marston’s remaining brewing assets [have been] transferred to a global brewing business which has already presided over the closure of historic breweries like Jennings in Cumbria and Charles Wells Eagle in Bedford, stopped selling cask ale in Scotland and has introduced an extremely damaging ‘fresh ale’ concept which is misleading to pubgoers and threatens the future of British cask conditioned ale,”​ added Antona.

CAMRA called for National Trading Standards and Trading Standards Scotland to investigate the ‘fresh ale’ concept earlier this year​, a process whereby kegged rather than cask conditioned beer is served using a cask handpump.

Commenting on the potential implications for the sector, Antona continued: “CAMRA fears that this announcement could lead to a further erosion of the UK’s rich brewing history for the benefit of conglomerate global brewers – and particularly the commitment to brewing cask. The consolidation of the brewing industry into just a few large, international players erodes our brewing heritage, consumer choice, the diversity of beer in pubs across the country and the access to market for small, independent producers.

“Having Marston’s pubs continuing to be subject to an anti-competitive supply tie by Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company is also a cause for concern, limiting choice for customers of great locally produced beer and cider from independent producers nationwide.

“Marston’s and CMBC bosses must commit to the future of brewing cask, improving consumer choice at the bar, protecting Britain’s brewing heritage and scrapping their damaging fresh ale concept once and for all.”

In other news, AB World Foods has recalled several batches of tahini due to the presence of Salmonella.

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