Brewer in shake-up to fight off takeover bids

03 May 2001
Brewer in shake-up to fight off takeover bids

The directors of Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries (W&D) have announced a major shake-up designed to fight off takeover bids from its two predators.

Formal offers were expected from entrepreneur Robert Breare's Noble House, backed by venture capitalist Botts & Co, and pub operator Pubmaster by the 20 April deadline.

But in the event, both submitted only "indicative" (preliminary) offers, which W&D has rejected.

W&D now plans to press ahead with its own recovery plan, although it will keep talking to the two bidders "to the extent that it is in shareholders' interests".

The W&D plan includes selling off 130 "concept and town-centre sites", including the Pitcher & Piano chain. Some 200 smaller managed pubs will be turned into tenanted outlets. This would reduce the managed pub estate to 550 pubs and increase the number of tenanted pubs to 1,050.

Larger managed pubs will be turned into "Bostin Local" outlets.

W&D already has 15 pubs running under this banner. It describes them as "straightforward, contemporary, community pubs - unfussy, with a broad customer appeal, a family-friendly approach and a value-based food and drink offer".

It believes it can turn some 40 pubs a year over to this format, at a cost of £400,000 each. About 200 are deemed suitable for conversion.

Further plans include driving down costs by bringing in simpler food menus in the managed pubs.

W&D will sell its Camerons Brewery in Hartlepool, Cleveland, and close its Mansfield brewery in Nottinghamshire. This would leave it with breweries in Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, and Wolverhampton, West Midlands.

by David Shrimpton

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