Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Michael Turner, Fuller's

01 July 2011 by
Caterer and Hotelkeeper 100: Michael Turner, Fuller's

Overall ranking: 72 new entry

Pub ranking: 7 new entry

Michael Turner: Snapshot

Michael Turner is chairman of Fuller, Smith & Turner , the renowned London family brewer and pub operator. Founded in 1845, Fuller's operates from the historic Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, west London.

Fullers' operates a high quality estate of around 350 leased and directly managed pubs across London and the South East. Its acclaimed beers include the flagship ale London Pride, as well as Discovery, Chiswick Bitter, ESB, Organic Honey Dew and many others.

For the 26 weeks to 25 September 2010, the business reported pre-tax profits up 11% to £15.7m on turnover up 4% to £121.5m

Michael Turner: Career guide

Born in 1951, Michael Turner is a fifth generation descendant of John Turner, one of the co-founders of the brewing business in 1845.

After attending Harvard Business School, Turner qualified as a chartered accountant with Ernst & Whitney, and joined the family business in 1978. He initially ran the Wine Division as wine director, became marketing director in 1988, managing director in 1992, chief executive in 2002 and chairman in 2007.

He is a past chairman of the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

Michael Turner: What we think

There are those who argue that the family brewer business model, selling own-brewed beers through leased or managed pubs across a defined geographic "patch", looks a little outdated in a world of global food and drink brands.

For the counter-argument, look no further than the successful pub business and enviable portfolio of beer brands operated by Fuller, Smith and Turner. If the fact that the business is universally known as "Fullers" rather than by his own equally-distinguished family name ever rankles, Michael Turner never shows it.

The family brewing sector has undoubtedly been through some changes during Turner's generation in the business. Consolidation and attrition have taken their toll on pub operators, while global brewers such as Carlsberg and Heineken have become more directly involved in the UK market. At the same time, the beer market has turned on its head, with two-thirds of beer now drunk at home, rather than in the on-trade.

Fuller's has played its own part in pub consolidation. In 2005, when Turner was managing director, the company did a deal to acquire rival family brewer George Gale, increasing Fuller's catchment with a high quality estate of pubs across Hampshire. While ale aficionados initially mourned the closure of Gales' brewery in Horndean, its brands such as HSB and Seafarers now thrive as part of Fuller's core range.

All its pubs have a strong focus on food, with enviable wine lists alongside the high quality ales. The expansion strategy is selective, as befits a business that knows its decisions will impact on generations to come.

The focus is on carefully selected premium additions, such the package of six pubs acquired from Punch Taverns in 2009, which bought well-known Westminster watering hole the Red Lion into the estate. In April, Fuller's acquired the 500-year-old Grade II-listed White Swan in Stratford-upon-Avon from Pebble Hotels, while June saw three acquisitions including iconic Twickenham rugby pub the Cabbage Patch, and journalists' haunt the Coach & Horses in Soho.

The business runs its slide rule over many such opportunities, but Turner is adamant that Fuller's won't overpay and that acquisitions should enhance the overall quality of the estate. The business has come through the recession as strongly as any pub operator, suggesting the family brewer model has plenty of life in it yet.

Acquisition of pubs from Punch >>

Fuller's to take over the Coach & Horses >>

Fuller's pubs look for Royal Wedding Boost >>

Michael Turner profile in The Times >>

Fuller's website >>

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