Fuller’s to sell to Asahi

Fuller’s was founded in 1845 by John Bird Fuller, Henry Smith and John Turner and the families still control roughly 50% of the shares and 75% of the voting rights, with six family members in senior positions.
The brewery’s buildings could be at threat if the follow the same fate of other historic London breweries, such as in Wandsworth and Mortlake which have been turned into luxury homes and shops as property values rise. It is estimated that The Griffin site could be worth up to £100m and be ripe for redevelopment.
Chief executive Simon Emeny said protecting the site’s heritage was “particularly important” to the Fuller’s board when negotiating the sale.
Penny Barltrop, Chair of The Chiswick Old Protection Society (COPS) explained that only part of the brewery has listed status, but not the warehouse site by Chiswick Lane and Mall. COPS have asked for the brewery site in its entirety to be listed.
“What makes this area special is the mix of industrial and residential buildings of historical importance. The sale was conditional on their continuing to brew on site. It does not say specifically how many years..”
Fullers is strategically shedding its brewing, wholesaling and distribution operations will free up management to focus on its 182 pubs and more than 203 hotels which make up around three quarters of its profits.
Founded in 1845, “It’s emotional, but the logic for doing it was compelling,” Turner told the Times on Friday. “The forces of change were just too great.”’
Simon Emeny, Chief Executive of Fuller’s, commented:
“This deal secures the future of both parts of our business including protecting the heritage of the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick, which was particularly important to the Fuller’s Board.”

Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) issued a statement saying it was worried that the ongoing consolidation in brewing could lead to a “reduction in choice, value for money and quality for beer drinkers”.
“It’s a very sad day to see such a well-known, historic and respected name exit the brewing business,” said Camra’s chairman, Jackie Parker. “While the Fuller’s family has stressed it has sought to protect the heritage of the Griffin brewery, we’d call on the new owners to pledge to continue brewing operations at the Chiswick site.”
Akiyoshi Koji, CEO of Asahi Group Holdings, Ltd, commented:
“London Pride is a fantastic brand with an illustrious heritage dating back to the 1950s and we are excited about its untapped international potential which Asahi has the scale and global network to unlock.”
“Based on the agreement, we will continue to brew beers at the Griffin brewery in Chiswick. It is and always has been the home of London Pride.” However, some redundancies are expected as a result of the deal.
The deal is the latest in a series that has transformed Tokyo-based Asahi into the world’s seventh largest brewer.

The Griffin Brewery

The Griffin Brewery, owned by Fuller, Smith and Turner, but now being sold to Japanese brewing company Asahi, has its main entrance in Chiswick Lane South.
Beer has been brewed on this site for over 300 years.
In the 1665 Act of Parliament enacted to sell Bedford House to meet the debts of Edward Russell, was mentioned ‘two messuages or tenements being lately converted into a Brewhouse’.
The brewery passed into the ownership of Thomas Mawson in 1685. He had his brewery behind the houses half way along the row, near the foot of Chiswick Lane, c. 1700 and the brewery’s Red Lion, perhaps the only inn facing the river, had been licensed by 1722.
The inn stood close to a draw dock, where barges were still unloaded in the late 19th century. The Fuller’s Brewery is an important asset of Chiswick’s, and the Borough ’s industrial landscape, all the more so as it is London’s only remaining large Brewery.

See details on how you can use your club card to get a free tour of the brewery here