1. ITV Report

Bedford brewery is snapped up in multi-million pound deal

It's business as usual at Charles Wells, despite the brewery's sale Credit: ITV Anglia

The historic Charles Wells brewery in Bedford has been sold for £55 million.

Charles Wells has been brewing in Bedford for 140 years.

Charles Wells has also sold its brands including Bombardier, Courage, and McEwan's.

But the new owner, Marston's, said it's committed to the future of brewing in Bedford. Charles Wells will concentrate on creating craft beers and managing its pubs.

Charles Wells says the sale marks an exit from higher volume national sales in favour of a more local and smaller scale brewing future in Bedford. It says it also wants to concentrate on its managed pubs in the UK and France.

We are delighted to have reached an agreement with Marston’s to acquire our brewery and become a close trading partner. After a detailed review of our strategy we had decided to re-balance the company more towards retail investment and that meant finding a partner we could work with for the future. There are opportunities for both companies in this deal and we look forward to bringing them to life”

– Justin Phillimore, Chief Executive of Charles Wells Ltd

We are delighted to have agreed to acquire Charles Wells Brewing and Beer Business. It is a high quality brewing business offering us opportunities to extend our trading area in the South of England and Scotland, and brings a range of well-known and popular brands into our portfolio.

– Chief executive Ralph Findlay, Marstons

The Campaign for Real Ale said it was always concerned about brewery buy-outs, but that Marston's had a good track record of keeping open the businesses it buys.

It's reassuring to hear that Charles Wells intends to continue brewing in Bedford, ensuring that whatever Marston's chooses to do with the brewery and brands it has acquired, local people will continue to be able to enjoy locally brewed beers in the region."

– Tim Page, CAMRA's Chief Executive