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18th May 2017

Sale of brewing & brands business by Charles Wells Ltd.

Charles Wells Ltd today announces that it has agreed terms to sell its brewery and brand sales interests to Marston’s PLC for a cash consideration of £55 million plus working capital adjustments.  The other Charles Wells assets – pubs in the UK and France, are not included in the sale.

The Bedford brewery site is the home of leading ale brands Bombardier, Courage, and McEwan’s and the sale also includes the UK distribution rights for Kirin Lager, Estrella Damm  Erdinger and the exclusive global license of the Young’s brand.  In addition, Cockburn & Campbell, the wine merchants, will also transfer.  The new “Charlie Wells” beers will not be sold. Employees at the brewery in production, national sales and brands marketing will transfer to Marston’s.

In the next couple of years Charles Wells will invest in a new, smaller, brewery to supply beers to its pub customers in the UK and Europe, and brewing and supply agreements will be made with Marston’s for interim brewing and longer term exclusive pub distribution services. The Charles Wells pub estate will have the benefit of the wider beer and wine range available from Marston’s.

The strategy of Charles Wells has been to develop speciality ale and lager brands and a high quality pub estate which is either tenanted or managed according to location. Today’s announcement signals an exit from higher volume national sales in favour of a more local smaller scale brewing future.  The key focus will become the expansion of the managed pub businesses in the UK and France through acquisition, alongside additional investment in the leased and tenanted estate.

Justin Phillimore, Chief Executive of Charles Wells Ltd, commented:

“We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Marston’s to acquire our brewery and become a close trading partner.  After a detailed review of our strategy we had decided to re-balance the company more towards retail investment and that meant finding a partner we could work with for the future. There are opportunities for both companies in this deal and we look forward to bringing them to life”

Ralph Findlay, Chief Executive Officer of Marston’s PLC, commented:

“We are delighted to have agreed to acquire the Charles Wells brewing business. It will offer us opportunities to extend our trading area into the South of England and Scotland, and brings a range of well-known and popular brands into our portfolio. We also aim to develop further our range of international licensed brands, and look forward to working with our new international partners, including Estrella Damm, Erdinger and Kirin.

The acquisition of the Charles Wells brewing business builds on Marston’s established brewing prowess and is a further step in our objective to develop the leading premium beer business in the UK market. We have demonstrated our ability to acquire, integrate and develop beer brands evidenced by the success of brands such as Hobgoblin, Wainwright, and Lancaster Bomber. We have also achieved success with international licensed brands including Shipyard, now the 2nd biggest craft beer in the UK on trade.”




Charles Wells Ltd

Paul Wells                Chairman

Justin Phillimore     Chief Executive

Paul Hutchinson     Communications Manager             01234 279234


Note to editors:


The Bedford brewery site was opened in 1976 in the centenary year of Charles Wells after the previous brewery in the centre of Bedford was sold to the council.  The brewery has a capacity of over one million hectolitres, dating from the successful thirty year development of Red Stripe lager, with cask racking, kegging, bottling and canning facilities. Primary and secondary distribution and technical cellar services are outsourced.