Tuesday, 29 September 2015

John Smith acquisitions

John Smith was one of what I call the nearly men. Breweries that expanded rapidly in the 1950’s and 1960’s, but didn’t quite make the Big Six.

Though in a way they did. Because these large brewing groups became important chunks of the eventual winners. When Courage, Barclay & Simonds took them over in 1970, they brought 1,800 pubs with them.  That was around a third of the 6,000 tied houses the whole Courage group owner after the merger.

I have mixed feelings about John Smith. They closed one of the Newark breweries (Warwick & Richardson) and one of my all-time favourites (Barnsley). Then they phased out cask beer in the mid-1970’s. When I lived in a town where they owned 90% of the pubs. I say John Smith owned them and not Courage because they didn’t sell any products from the latter’s breweries.  I virtually never went in any of their Leeds pubs when I lived there. Because they didn’t do cask.

John Smith had quite a limited geographical spread. If you look at the breweries they bought, all are North of the Trent, except Warwick & Richardson which was on the river’s southern bank. It looks from their acquisitions that they traded in the North of the Midlands, Yorkshire, Lancashire and the Northeast.

I can see why Courage bought them. Until then, Courage was pretty much exclusively southern, with the exception of the pubs that came along with Hole’s of Newark. How ironic is that? The only place they overlapped was Newark, where I grew up. Otherwise, the two tied estates were complementary: Courage in the South, John Smith in the North. In my experience, the two parts of the company operated pretty separately all through the 1970’s.

I’ll finish with a nice table.

John Smith acquisitions
year brewery address tied houses closed
1919 Fernandes & Co Wakefield 42 1919
1925 Warwick & Co Boroughbridge  42
1926 Bentley’s Milnshaw Brewery Co Accrington  12
1934 Haughton Road Brewery Co Darlington 41
1941 H Shaw Dunkinfield 60
1958 Whitworth, Son & Nephew Ltd Wath upon Derne 165
1961 Barnsley Brewery Co Ltd Barnsley 250 1976
1961 Yates Castle Brewery Ltd Manchester 175 pubs in 1896
1962 Warwick & Richardsons Ltd Newark 1966
"The Brewing Industry a Guide to Historical Records” by Lesley Richmond and Alison Turton, 1990, page 303.
A Century of British Breweries plus by Norman Barber, 2005, pages 29, 66, 94. 160, 163 and 172.

I think I’ll continue the Courage theme with a look at the growth of Simonds.

No comments: