On Friday, the UK’s Guardian Unlimited that CAMRA and other consumer advocacy groups are already angered by Greene King’s takeover big to buy Hardys & Hansons, after which they believe “Hardys & Hansons will be chewed up and spat out like so many before it,” according to Camra’s chief executive, Mike Benner. Hardys & Hansons also includes the pub Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem in Nottingham, believed to be the oldest pub in Great Britain. The pub is literally carved into the sandstone under Nottingham castle, although Wikipedia indicates that perhaps nineteen other pubs have similar claims to the title “oldest in Britain.” Greene King’s bid has thus far included no information about the fate of the pub, the brewery or their employees.
From CAMRA’s press release:
The Campaign for Real Ale today called on shareholders of Hardys & Hansons to reject the takeover offer from Greene King and draw a line in the sand on behalf of beer consumers.
The offer to buy Nottingham based Hardys & Hansons is the latest in a series of acquisitions that has seen Greene King devour ten rivals in ten years.
CAMRA Chief Executive Mike Benner said: “If this deal goes through, history has shown us that Hardys & Hansons’ brewery and beers will not be in safe hands. Now is the time for the shareholders who truly care about this excellent brewery with more than 174 years of history to make a stand and reject this offer.
“Today’s announcement made scant reference to the future of the beers, the brewery or the staff. We believe if the shareholders don’t block this now, Hardys & Hansons will be chewed up and spat out like so many before it.”
CAMRA is concerned that the acquisition of Hardys & Hansons 268 strong pub estate would take the number of pubs owned by Greene King and selling its beers to around 2680 nationwide. Having such a massive presence can only be damaging to consumer choice.
Mike Benner continued: “In 2002 CAMRA warned the Government that the abolition of the Guest Beer Right would result in a series of mergers and takeovers that would undermine competition and consumer choice. Do we want to find ourselves in a situation where every other pub sells only Greene King IPA? The Guest Beer Right must be reintroduced before it is too late so that licensees can sell a beer of their choice to preserve the future for independent breweries.”
Here’s a history of buyouts undertaken by Greene King over the last ten years:
- 1996: Magic Pub Company (This pub group included the Hungry Horse concept which is now one of the Greene King’s pub brands)
- 1999: Morlands Brewery (closed the brewery and Ruddles beer brands acquired at the same time)
- 2001: Old English Inns (the pub estate integrated into the GK pub estate)
- 2002: Acquired the Morrells Pub company (pubs integrated with the GK pub estate)
- 2004: Laurel Pub Company (pubs integrated with the GK pub estate)
- 2005: Ridleys Brewery (brewery closed)
- 2005: Belhaven Brewery (brewery still open)