The apparent motive may vary - acquiring brands with a cachet, expanding capacity, grabbing more pubs - but the underlying one is always the same. Making more money.
I was so happy when I found a copy of "The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990" by Anthony Avis. Not because it's rare* as a book. But because it's a rare insider's view of the crazy consolidation of the 1950's and 1960's.
I'd almost said something above about being a materialist**. But in my, albeit fairly shallow so far, research into the whole merger thing, individuals have been more important than I expected.
Anyway, back to the topic. And a quote. Which could easily be a CAMRA text from the 1970's. But it isn't. The author was in brewery management, Hammonds to Bass Charrington.
"Take-overs and mergers had to be paid for, and this took two forms - the obvious step was an increase in the price of beer, and the other was the removal of good trading houses out of tenancy into direct management by the brewery, in order to secure both wholesale and retail profit. Increasing the price of beer enabled the brewery companies to increase the rents to tenants, on the specious argument that increased prices meant higher retail profits and therefore the tenant could afford to pay higher rent, and that too was based on the trade the tenant was doing in his house - the harder he worked and the more he increased his trade, the greater his rent. He effectively paid for his own success. By taking good trading houses under management, the brewery companies also effectively took away the incentive from a tenant to work hard to be in line for promotion to a better house. It took some years of this devious thinking on the part of brewery companies to get through to the tenants, accustomed to benevolent and paternalistic treatment by the brewery. The traditional, if unwritten, promise of a brewery to its tenant, that so long as he increased the trade of his present public house and sold ever increasing barrels of beer, he would be in line to get a bigger house when it came up for letting, and that the brewery would look after all his business problems to allow him to concentrate on the retailing, quite suddenly and within a few years vanished. A whole new ball game, with new rules, started up."
"The Brewing Industry 1950 - 1990", by Anthony Avis, 1997, page 28.
* My copy is no. 94 of 200.
** In the fucking philosophical sense.