Independent family-owned Cornish brewer St Austell has purchased fellow West Country brewer and pub operator, Bath Ales, for an undisclosed sum.
The deal will see St Austell take control of the Bath Ales brewery, which is located between Bath and Bristol, its portfolio of beers including Gem and Dark Side, and its estate of 11 pubs, including the venues operation uder the Graze and Beerd brands.
James Staughton, St Austell Brewery chief executive, said the deal formed part of a strategy to strengthen its position outside of its Cornish heartland, and into the Bristol and Bath region.
'For a long time Bath Ales has been a company I have admired and this exciting acquisition provides the coming together of two like-minded businesses,' he said.
'Bath Ales brews great beer and has a thriving pub estate, both of which complement those of St Austell Brewery, and with the acquisition we are committing to a long-term significant investment in the Bath Ales brands, pub estate, people and brewing facilities. We already operate a successful free trade business across the region, and a wholesale service to free trade customers, which will also bring additional routes to market for Bath Ales’ beers.'
St Austell has confirmed that all of Bath Ales’ beer brands will continue to be brewed at the Bath Ales brewery, with investment set to take place to expand the brewing and packaging facilities.
Bath Ales, founded in 1995, has said its current directors, including managing director Roger Jones, will play an 'active role' in the integration process.
Jones said: 'This is a really exciting move for Bath Ales. With the investment and broader support from St Austell Brewery we are better placed to capture the opportunity that exists for [the company].
'We are confident that we can also make a strong contribution to their operations so that the combined organisation can really set the standard for quality beers and outstanding venues. The combined business will be a force to be reckoned with.'
Founded in 1851, St Austell currently owns 168 pubs across the South West, with beer brands including Tribute Cornish Pale Ale, Proper Job IPA and Korev Cornish Lager. Last year, the company brewed 100,000 brewer’s barrels (163,659 hectolitres) of its own-brand beers in the calendar year – equivalent to 28.8 million pints.
Bath Ales recently announced total sales growth up 7% to £15.6m for the year ending 31 August 2015. Sales of its beer brands, led by flagship brand Gem, were up 18%, to more than 30,000 hectolitres, or over five million pints.
Pictured: James Staughton, CEO of St Austell Brewery and Roger Jones, founder of Bath Ales