Wales' largest cask ale producer, SA Brain have sold their free trade business to multi-national brewer Heineken, via their British subsidiary Scottish & Newcastle. The deal covers the independent free trade and SA Brain's own retail business and will allow S & N to market Brains ales as well as seeing Heineken products in Brains own estate of 260 pubs.
S & N will take on responsibility for the sales, distribution and technical support of Brain's ale portfolio in the free trade, alongside the Heineken owned brands which include Bulmers and Kronenbourg.
Brain's beers will be available more widely in Wales via S & N deals with pub companies such as Scottish & Newcastle Enterprises. An undisclosed sum has been paid by S & N for the free trade business.
From May, 34 staff of SA Brain will transfer to S & N, joining the 60,000 worldwide staff of Heineken.
Heineken was established in by Gerard Adriaan Heineken in Amsterdam when he purchased the Haystack Brewery in 1864. Heineken operates in more than 170 countries worldwide and owns more than 120 breweries in at least 65 different countries. Is Wales the next country on their road to global domination of the beer market? Could this be the first part of a takeover of Wales' largest independent brewery?
S & N will allow allow SA Brain to brew some of their brands at the Cardiff Brewery from 2010 until at least 2017. The Cardiff Brewery has been brewing under capacity ever since Brains took it over from Bass in 1999, so this deal to contract brew for S & N is a welcome boost. Who knows we may see McEwans 80/ being brewed in Cardiff? Should keep the beer tickers happy anyway.
This could be seen as the first step in a full takeover of SA Brain, a company where major changes on the board will be occurring with the imminent retirement of Chris Brain who has been chair of SA Brain for 20 years.
For the full SA Brain press release click here