The Wood Brewery, started by the real-ale-loving Wood family in 1980 in Wistanstow, south Shropshire, has been acquired by Yarrawaddie Brands. The brewery is one of the founders of the Small Independent Brewers’ Association (SIBA) and a strong supporter of real ale campaigners CAMRA.
Yarrawaddie Brands is owned by Stephen O’Neill, a drinks industry executive who was formerly Senior Vice-President of Strategy for Pernod Ricard USA and Patrick McGuckian, who has spent his career in the food distribution business. They will be joint managing directors of the brewery.
Joining the company as Commercial Director is Tony Walsh, who previously worked for Bass and Imbiba, a leisure industry fund.
Edward Wood, MD of the Wood Brewery for almost 40 years, said: “Obviously I have mixed feelings about leaving the company, but I believe the new owners can take the business to a new level and are well placed to ensure substantial growth from a robust base.”
Edward will continue in the business as a consultant for some months to ensure a smooth handover.
Wood’s awadr-winning draught and bottled beers, including Shropshire Lad and Shropshire Lass, are sold throughout Shropshire and adjoining counties, as well as further afield through drinks agencies.
The brewery is based where it started, in the former stables of the Plough Inn, the brewery tap, in Wistanstow village, on the edge of the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Wood’s have made significant developments and expansion on the site over the years.
The Wood Brewery was founded by Basil and Barbara Wood and their son Anthony, Edward’s brother, in 1979. The family acquired the Plough Inn next to the family home in the village of Wistanstow, south Shropshire, and started the brewery in the pub’s former stables. The launch of the brewery helped ensure the survival of traditionally brewed British beer at a time when mass market ‘keg’ beers were sweeping into pubs.
Edward joined the brewery shortly after it started and Anthony returned to his career in estate agency and property surveying.
When founded, the brewery was at the forefront of the campaign for real ale, and it remains a prominent supporter.
Over the years its beers have won many awards, including Champion Bitter of Britain in the annual competition run by the industry body, SIBA. The beers have been sold the length and breadth of Britain.
Cheers! Edward Wood (centre) hands over the reins of the brewery to new owners Stephen O’Neill (left) and Patrick McGuckian (right).