St Austell Brewery has announced a multi-million pound expansion of Bath Ales, which it acquired in July.
Investment in a new brewery in Warmley, Bristol, is set to double Bath Ales’ capacity to 50,000 barrels or 14.5 million pints a year, and add new bottling facilities.
Tim McCord, who has held senior roles in brewing giant InBev and Punch Taverns, is Bath’s new general manager.
FAST PACE: St Austell Brewery is pouring cash into Bath Ales
St Austell is one of only 28 independent, family-owned brewers in the UK, and was founded in 1851.
It owns 167 pubs in the South-West and is best known for Tribute Cornish Pale Ale, Proper Job IPA and Korev lager. It employs 1,318 staff and has a turnover of £153 million.
Bath Ales, founded in 1995, brews award-winning beers such as Gem and Barnsey, and runs 11 pubs in Bristol, Bath, Cirencester and Oxford.
James Staughton, chief executive of St Austell, said of the buyout: ‘We needed to de-risk the business away from the seasonality of Cornwall.
‘The further east we go, the more we’re focused on city centres and the less seasonal the business becomes.
‘We identified Bath Ales as a prospective partner and things went from there. It wasn’t for sale, but we assured the founders that their legacy would be safe in our hands.
‘Our investment puts our money where our mouth is and we’re delivering on a brewery it had planned. We’ll call it the Hare Brewery.’
Staughton welcomed moves in last week’s Budget to help pubs affected by rising business rates.
However, he added: ‘Many have been struggling for years due to duty increases, price rises and changing drinking habits brought about by legislation.
‘So we cannot help but be extremely disappointed by the news that we are back to the days of alcohol duty rises.’
He said strong arguments for a reduction in duty had ‘fallen upon deaf ears’ and spoke of a body-blow to the entire hospitality sector, local jobs, and ‘one of the bastions of British culture, the pub’.
He added that the company’s biggest operational challenge was a shortage of chefs.
EGG IDEA HATCHED ON A PLANE
After a chance meeting on a plane, Adam Sopher, co-founder of Joe & Seph’s popcorn, has joined an award-winning chocolate supplier to produce a Fairtrade popcorn Easter egg.
Sopher ended up sitting next to Sophi Tranchell, founder of Divine Chocolate – which has won numerous accolades for its ethical stance – on a flight from Germany.
Cracket it: Adam Sopher and the innovative popcorn egg
He said: ‘I started talking to the lady next to me. We spent the flight talking about our businesses and had this idea of a chocolate popcorn Easter egg.
‘The flight landed and I didn’t think much more of it. Four months later we had a call from Divine, which wanted samples. And that was how it started.’
‘We are launching nationwide to Waitrose and Oxfam. It’s a world first – the popcorn is in the shell.’