Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Flowers Breweries Ltd. (part two)

More on the merger of Flower & Sons and J.W. Green.

The composition of the board and the location of the company headquarters reveal who was in charge: J.W. Green.

The chairman of Flowers Breweries, Ltd. will Mr Bernard Dixon, chairman of J. W. Green. Ltd, and other directors the new Board will be Major J. B. S Tabor, grandson of the late Mr. J. W. Green; Mr. C. J. D. Law. grandson of the late Mr. J. W Green; Lt.-Col. H. P. J. Phillips, son-in-law of Sir Harold Wernher; Mr. P. E. Norris, who was for many years at the Luton Brewery and who is managing director of the group's Tunbridge Wells Brewery; and Mr. D. G. D. Webo, chief accountant of the group.

The secretary of the new company win be Mr. C. Holloway, who will also be secretary of J. W. Green, Ltd. Mr. Holloway as a director of a number of the companies in the group. The Flowers directors on the new Board will be Lt.-Col. Fordham Flower, chairman of Flower and Sons,  Ltd ; Mr. Dennis Flower and Mrs. E. Lloyd, directors of Flower and Sons, Ltd.

It will be seen that not only are the Headquarters of the new group to be at the Luton Brewery, but no fewer than six of the nine directors are directors or executives of J. W. Green, Ltd.”
Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle - Thursday 04 March 1954, page 9.

Two-thirds of the directors came from J.W. Green, as did the new chairman. It sounds as if some of the breweries they had taken over were still separate companies. This wasn’t that unusual. It was just simpler that way.

It seems that there had already been links between the two companies. Sons in brewing families were usually sent to another brewery for an apprenticeship.

“Many Lutonians will remember Mr. Dennis Flower, who received clinical training at the Luton Brewery. Another interesting link is that the father of Mr, A R. Kelsey, chairman of the Tunbridge Wells Brewery, was a pupil at Flowers Brewery at Stratford-on-Avon in 1850.

The terms the merger are as follows: Green's will declare a bonus their Ordinary shareholders consisting of one Preference share for each 20 Ordinary shares held. Then a further bonus will be declared of one Ordinary share for every three held. These Ordinary shares will then divided into 5s units.

Flower’s shareholders are to get 16 5s. units in Green's for each three Ordinary £1 shares in Flower's. They will also get 7s. 6d cash for each Ordinary share held.

Green’s are also offering fifty 5.5 per cent Preference shares for forty-one 6 per cent Preference shares in Flower's.
Luton News and Bedfordshire Chronicle - Thursday 04 March 1954, page 9.

It doesn’t sound like a whole lot of cash was involved in the takeover. Only the 7s 6d for each Ordinary share in Flower & Son. It doesn’t look like a bad deal for Flower’s shareholders: they were getting £4 of Green’s Ordinary shares and 7s 6d cash for £3 of Flower’s shares.

Here’s a chronicle of both breweries:

J.W. Green
1857 founded by Henry and Frederick Pearson
1869 bought by J.W. Green
1897 became J.W. Green Ltd
1954 became Flowers Breweries Ltd.
1961 bought by Whitbread
1969 original brewery closed when Oakley Road brewery opened
1984 Oakley Road brewery closed
"A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 1.

Flower & Sons
1831 Founded by Edward Fordham Flower
1874 New brewery in Birmingham Rd.
1888 became Flower & Sons Ltd.
1954 bought by J.W Green
1968 Closed
"A Century of British Breweries Plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, page 142.

Here’s a table of all J.W. Green’s acquisitions over the years:

J. W. Green acquisitions
year brewery address tied houses closed
1897 Luton Brewery Co Ltd Luton Road Brewery, Luton 90 1897
1920 W & S Lucas Ltd Sun Street, Hitchin, Hertfordshire 52 1923
1926 Morris & Co. (Ampthill) Ltd Ampthill Brewery, Bedford Street, Ampthill, Bedfordshire 70 1926
1936 Adey & White Ltd St Albans Brewery, Chequer Street, St Albans, Hertfordshire 56 1936
1948 E & H Kelsey Ltd Culverden Brewery, Tunbridge Wells, Kent 84 1956
1949 J & J E Phillips Ltd Royston Brewery, Royston, Hertfordshire 150 1950
1950 George Ware & Sons Ltd Pale Ale Brewery, Frant, East Sussex 12 1950
1951 Soulby, Sons & Winch Ltd The Brewery, Alford, Lincolnshire 143 1952
1952 R. Fenwick & Co Ltd Sunderland Brewery, Low Street, Sunderland, Tyne & Wear, 101 1964
1952 Mowbray & Co Ltd Grantham Brewery, London Road, Grantham, Lincolnshire 207 1964
1952 E K & H Fordham Ltd Ashwell Brewery, Ashwell, Hertfordshire 107 1952
1954 Flower & Sons Ltd The Brewery, Brewery Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire 350 1969
"The Brewing Industry a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, 1990, pages 37, 141, 144, 218 and 242.
Effects of Mergers by Ruth Cohen and P. Lesley Cook, 1958 (reprinted 2003, page 418.
"A Century of British Breweries plus" by Norman Barber, 2005, pages 56 and 138.

You can see how after WW II J.W. Green acquired more than 700 pubs through their purchases of other brewers, even before they bought Flower & Sons. And how most of the breweries were closed quickly. Only R. Fenwick and the Grantham Brewery remained open for any length of time.

I'm intrigued as to why they bought no more breweries after 1954. Had they overstretched themselves? There were another seven years before Whitbread swallowed them up. There must have been some reason for the sudden end to their purchases.

I always like to throw in a personal anecdote when I can. I remember the Soulby brewery buildings from my childhood. We used to pass through Alford on the way to our caravan at Mablethorpe. It was pretty obviously a brewery and a reasonably-sized one, as the 100-odd tied houses make clear. Alford, a pretty small market town, was an odd spot for a brewery of that size.

1 comment:

Martyn Cornell said...

Another link between Flowers and Greens was that Edward Fordham Flower was related to the Fordhams of the Ashwell brewery, t/o by Green's in 1952.

Flowers did have one takeover after the merger, of Threshers, the off-licence chain, in 1957. But everything was now getting much more expensive - Eddie Taylor of Carling was in the market too after 1959 – and the company was also rolling out Flower's Keg after 1956, which was expensive. Then in 1958 Bernard Dixon was sacked from the board, in a row over his plans to shut the Stratford on Avon brewery, among other things, and the drive went out of the company: after several attempts at mergers with others, including Greene King, Flowers actually asked Whitbread in 1962 if Whitbread would like to take it over, to which, of course, ther CHuswell Street boys said "Yes, thanks."