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Adnams rumoured to be looking for outright sale

Suffolk brewery Adnams is exploring an outright sale and currently sounding out prospective buyers and investors, according to reports.

The 134 year-old brewery, which already revealed that it was working with Alvarez & Marsal (A&M) on a range of options to bolster its finances, is now mulling selling up entirely, according to reports via Sky News.

Adnams, which has just redesigned its portfolio, had recently been rumoured to be considering the sale of some of its freehold assets from its pub estate in a bid to safeguard the future of its business.

Speaking to the drinks business last week, Adnams head of production Fergus Fitzgerald told db: “The business is continuing to explore a range of options to fund its future growth plans”.

Additionally, back in February, a spokesperson for the brewery explained: “Like many operators in the hospitality and brewing sectors, Adnams has been experiencing significant inflationary pressure on its labour, energy, raw ingredients and borrowing costs.

“Alongside this, we’ve seen weaker overall consumer demand, as households come under the same financial pressures. We have continued to focus on managing our costs and cash flow carefully through a number of initiatives, whilst focusing on a number of growth opportunities across our business and markets.”

The spokesperson reassured: “Adnams’ priority as a business is to stay true to its values of quality, innovation and sustainability, alongside serving and supporting its customers and colleagues” and added: “We’re encouraged by improved trading conditions at the start of 2024 and are confident the steps we’re taking will drive stronger sales growth and restore stronger profitability in the longer-term.”

Despite these assurances, Sky News revealed that Adnams has begun contacting prospective investors and buyers and a source close to the brewery acknowledged that a full sale of the company was now an option, even after it previously indicated last month that this was not a route it would consider.

Adnams had already alluded to its preferred routes to raising capital stemming from funding from investors or family, but had added that the sale of some of its freehold assets from its estate of pubs and inns would also be considered.

Since the rumours began over the weekend, Adnams has responded with its boss telling local reporters there has been “no change” to the brewery’s financing plans despite reports emerging that the firm was open to an outright sale.

The Southwold-based brewery which was founded in 1890, retains its founding family as the company’s largest shareholder, with Dr Adnams, the business’s chairman, owning a 20% stake in the company. The business, now run by Andy Wood, who joined it in the mid-1990s and became chief executive in 2010, also counts veteran marketer Steven Sharp and former Enterprise Inns boss Simon Townsend as its board members, while the senior Marks & Spencer executive Sacha Berendji is also a non-executive director.

Adnams chief executive Andy Wood instead dismissed the report and said Adnams is instead searching for external investment – short of a full takeover.

Dr Wood said: “There has been no change at all in our intention. Adnams is focused on exploring its options for continuing to underpin its ambitious growth plans, and in order to further the story of a brand which is so well loved by our East Anglian community – and far beyond.”

Wood added: “We have a healthy balance sheet that we are seeking to strengthen still further, supportive banking arrangements, most importantly a team of wonderfully dedicated staff and tenants, and every belief that we will soon find a well-fitting solution for our next chapter, under the leadership of my newly announced successor, Jenny Hanlon.”

Adnams is most famed for its beers such as: Ghost Ship, Broadside, Kobold lager and Blackshore stout and yet without assurances about its future, these brands could be under threat.

Today, the drinks business has reached out to Adnams for further comments on the rumours and plans for the future of the brewery.

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