Thursday, 12 July 2007

Ringwood Brewery Sold To Marston's!

Marston's PLC bought Hampshire-based Ringwood Brewery Ltd for £19.2 mln and the brewery's seven freehold pubs including East Dorset's current Pub of the Year The Porterhouse. News of this is all over the web already, though curiously no mention is made on the Ringwood Brewery website.

Marston's have said quite a lot about the deal. A statement by Alistair Darby, managing director of Marston's, comments that this takeover "is consistent with its strategy of developing a portfolio of well-established premium regional beer brands to complement its core range led by Pedigree. It said it fits well with its recent purchase of the Eldridge Pope estate and strengthens the company's position in the South of England." If you look at the former Dorchester brewery, once home of Eldridge Pope, and the beer quality in some former Eldridge Pope pubs, that does not sound awfully promising.
Darby continues: "We plan to develop (Ringwood's) excellent brands as part of our strategy to meet consumer demand for premium ales with local provenance and heritage. Our premium ale business continues to deliver good, consistent growth and we look forward to replicating the success of the Jennings business through Ringwood in the South of England".



The fear here is that choice is going to be limited once again. Ringwood beers may continue but will the quality and standards be maintained? Jennings beers have survived, so perhaps a good sign, but Eldridge Pope are off the map. More worrying for us in Dorset is the choice in the pub. Both The Porterhouse and The Boot in Weymouth are renowned for having a guest beer, many from micro-breweries. Does this takeover mean that the 'guests' will be all Marston's and Jennings beers; fine but bad for the micro-brewer and the interesting ales that enjoy fewer and fewer outlets beyond Beer Festivals.

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