Fuller, Smith and Turner has agreed to offload all of its beer brands to Japanese drinks company Asahi as it focuses on its pub and hotel business.
The maker of London Pride has agreed to sell its entire beer, wine, cider and soft drink manufacturing operations for £250m including debt after “carefully considering its options.”
Fuller’s said that the sale would help protect the company’s “brewing heritage” and that operations at its historical production facility in Chiswick’s Griffin Brewery would remain unchanged under its new owner. The site has been making beer since 1654.
The company will enter into a partnership with Asahi to buy the beer back for its pubs.
Asahi is the owner of Peroni and Grolsch brands.
Chief executive Simon Emeny said that protecting the heritage of the site was “particularly important” to the deal.
“We remain incredibly proud of the Fuller’s Beer Business, its history and the high quality premium beer and cider portfolio that we have developed,” he said.
“Brewing has formed an integral part of our history and brand identity, however the core of Fuller’s and the driver of our future growth is now our premium pubs and hotels business.”
Although Fuller’s will retain ultimate ownership of its brand name, Asahi will hold the global licence to use the trademark.
Akiyoshi Koji, chief executive of Asahi, said there was “untapped international potential” in the London Pride brand which the company can use its global scale to unlock.
The announcement came as Fuller’s released a trading update showing a 4.7% rise in like-for-like sales in its managed pubs and hotels over the 42 weeks to January 19.
Neil Wilson, of Markets.com, said the sale of the beer business would help Fuller’s to focus on investing in its pub estate.
“Punters won’t notice much difference at the bar,” he said.
“Pubs may be closing at a hell of a clip these days but consumers still want experiences and dining out is one of those. Therefore, investing in pubs and hotels is essential as consumers demand more from their pub experience.”