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Big Smoke Pub Co appoints administrators

Big Smoke Pub Co, which owns an estate of craft beer and food pubs across the UK, has appointed administrators.

The firm, based in Esher, is part of Big Smoke Brew Co, and was founded by James Morgan and Richard Craig. Both Morgan and Craig have remained quiet during the process, however the administrators appointed FRP Advisory released a statement and explained: “Pub chain The Big Smoke Pub Co has been acquired following a marketing process that ensures the continued trading of its pubs and the retention of all staff. The Big Smoke Pub Co operates a group of pubs across London and the South East of England. Glyn Mummery and Julie Humphrey of specialist business advisory firm FRP were appointed administrators on 6 July 2023 as the business recovers from the Covid trading period. Upon appointment the business and assets were sold. All 108 staff have been transferred to the new entity and trade continues under the existing management team without disruption at its sites. ”

The brewery arm, headed up by brewer Jenn Merrick who formerly worked with Beavertown, Dark Star and Meantime before taking on the role of managing director for Big Smoke Brew Co last year, will allegedly not be affected by the developments.

Despite this, the appointment of administrators, is now rumoured amongst the industry to “likely have a knock-on effect on sell-through of Big Smoke’s beer range” according to sources and is speculated to be a move that will “undoubtedly affect the brewery too at some stage soon as its portfolio already needs a boost to reach more people”. The line-up of beers includes brews such as Electric Eye, Solaris, Fruju, Cold Spark and Medicine Man. Industry sources additionally hinted that “this is largely an issue because Big Smoke’s beers are currently being rolled out via the pub estate as one of its core routes to market, so this is really going to hit them hard”.

The business, which originally began from humble beginnings brewing in The Antelope pub in Surbiton, has grown quickly over the past few years with The Antelope then installing a 33-hectolitre brew kit and a collection of 18 fermenters before moving all brewing to a new site in Esher.

The pub portfolio affected by the situation will include pub sites such as: The Antelope (pictured); The Albion; The Lord Raglan; The Flintgate and The Hole in the Wall.

To read further developments on this story, click through to find out more from co-founder Richard Craig on being bought out of administration as well as the revelation that he himself was connected to the newly established  company acquiring the pubs.

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