Three Founding Families Behind Fuller's To Share 35 million From Sale

Following takeover of Chiswick brewery by Asahi Fuller's Griffin Brewery in Chiswick

Fuller's Griffin Brewery in Chiswick
Fuller's Griffin Brewery in Chiswick

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The three founding families behind Fuller, Smith & Turner will share about £35 million from the sale of its brewing business to Asahi, the Japanese drinks group, the Times has reported.

Fuller’s, which dates back 174 years, surprised the market in January by announcing a £250 million sale of the historic business, including London Pride ale and the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick.

It said at the time that it would return between £55 million and £69 million of the £205 million of net proceeds to investors, with most of the rest being used to expand its pubs and hotels business, which has about 400 outlets.

At last week's annual meeting, Fuller’s confirmed that having completed the deal at the end of April, it had made a voluntary offer to inject £24 million into its pension fund and planned to return £69 million — the top end of the range — to its shareholders.

Fuller’s, now purely a pub and hotel operator, was founded in 1845 by John Bird Fuller, Henry Smith and John Turner and about 220 members of the three families still speak for about 50 per cent of the shares and 75 per cent of the votes, although there are no longer any Smiths working in the business.

Among the biggest beneficiaries of the handout will be Michael Turner, 68, the chairman, and his fellow board member Richard Fuller, 59. The former chairman Anthony Fuller, 79, is also among the biggest shareholders.

At the annual meeting, held at the George IV pub in Chiswick due to the sale of the brewery, the usual venue, the company also issued a reassuring trading update for the 22 weeks to the end of August.

It said it had made a good start to the year, with like-for-like sales up 2.5 per cent in its managed pubs and hotels. Its tenanted pubs suffered a 2 per cent fall in comparable profits against “exceptionally strong trading” for the same period last year, the Times reported.

The Asahi Group, who recently acquired the brewing business of Fuller’s have given assurances over the future of the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick.

The shock announcement of the sale had led to speculation that a redevelopment of the site. When we asked the Japanese company about their plans for the brewery their spokesperson told us, “Once this acquisition has been approved by all parties, we will continue to brew beers at the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick. It is, and always has been, the home of London Pride.”

Asahi paid £250 million for the brewing and distribution arms of Fuller’s including the Chiswick brewery. Asahi has also acquired the brands of the business including ‘London Pride’ and ‘Chiswick’. Ownership of the licensed trademarks will be retained by Fuller’s. The disposal is expected to complete in the first half of 2019.

Best known for its Super Dry beer brand, Asahi has been significantly expanding its European assets focused its strategy on premium beers spending €10bn acquiring brands like Peroni and Grolsch. It is now Europe’s third-biggest beer group after a €7.3bn takeover of SABMiller’s eastern European brewing assets and paying €2.55bn for SAB’s western European brands in 2016.

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September 16, 2019

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