Fuller's Swallows Family Brewer Gale's for Pounds 92m
McRae, Alex, The Independent (London, England)
Charles Brims, the chairman of the independent Gale's brewery, accepted a pounds 91.8m takeover bid from its rival Fuller's yesterday, blaming the impending smoking ban in pubs.
The Hampshire-based family company, which brews HSB, Festival Mild and Butser Bitter, is the fourth family brewer to be taken over in the past year, after Belhaven, Ridley's and Jennings.
Mr Brims said the smoking ban and increased competition made it difficult for small family brewers to expand. He added: 'We're sad that it's the end of an era as an independent family brewer, but it's a very good deal.' The deal will result in pounds 3m cost savings for the merged group. Fuller's said it would be able to negotiate better purchasing deals and streamline jobs within the expanded company.
News of the agreed takeover immediately led to speculation about the future of the Gale'sVictorian tower brewery in Horndean, with fears that it might not suit the Chiswick-based Fuller's to brew beer in Hampshire. The Horndean brewery's 50,000 barrel maximum capacity could be produced at Fuller's much larger Chiswick site, some said. Fuller's said it had not made a decision on Horndean and would carry out a review of its entire business first. …