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Welsh brewer Brains weighs cost of moving beer production to England

06 January 2021 by
Welsh brewer Brains weighs cost of moving beer production to England

The future of Welsh brewery SA Brain is in doubt with fears the company could be forced to move production of its beers to England for the first time in 140 years.

Chief executive Alistair Darby told The Caterer that the pressure of ongoing coronavirus restrictions meant the "economic viability" of its Dragon Brewery site in Cardiff (pictured) was under threat.

He said that 85% of the beer produced was sold into pubs and clubs, which have had to close for much of the past year, while only 15% went to supermarkets.

In December Brains announced that all 156 of its pubs, which are primarily in Wales, would be taken over by Wolverhampton-based Marston's in a deal that safeguarded 1,300 jobs.

This has placed staff roles at its central head office, which previously provided operational support to pubs, and the associated brewery under threat.

Darby said the Marston's deal and pressure of ongoing restrictions meant the company had no choice but to enter into a consultation process with employees this week.

He said: "We're trying to weigh up all the possibilities that are open to us. In an ideal world if we could keep brewing in the Dragon Brewery or in Wales – that would be fantastic. That may prove to be easier said than done."

The Marston's deal includes a commitment to keep serving Brains beer in its pubs and to keep the company name above the door.

"This is a partnership deal and it's important we make arrangements to ensure the continuity in supply of the Brains beers," said Darby.

"We're going through the process of ensuring we can do that. Where that ends up remains to be seen. But continuity of supply of Brains beer is absolutely critical for us and for Marston's."

Brains was founded in Cardiff in 1882 and remains a family-run business. It moved production to the state-of-the-art Dragon Brewery in Cardiff Bay in 2019.

Photo: https://www.sabrain.com/our-story/the-brewery

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