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Young's, Wells Merge

May 23, 2006 - British brewing giant Young's will close its famous Ram brewery site - where brewing began in 1571 - merging brewing operations with Bedford-based Charles Wells.

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The decision to merge its operations paves the way for Young's to sell its highly lucrative Wandsworth brewery site, believed to be worth up to 100 million. A possible sale has been under review for two years.

Young's said that following a "comprehensive review" it would be combining its brewing, beer brands and wholesale operations with the brewing assets, including the freehold site of the Eagle Brewery, beer brands and wholesale operations of Charles Wells.

Wells will hold 60% of a new brewing operation called Wells & Young's Brewing Co. Wells is the largest independent family owned brewery in the country.

A statement from Young's indicated it will remain a "vertically integrated business," still involved in brewing of its beers as well as running pubs and marketing its beer. John Young, chairman of Young's said:

"The decision to sell the Ram Brewery site in our 175th year was taken with some reluctance, for mainly nostalgic reasons, but as I promised when we first announced that we were launching the brewing review in 2003, my head has ruled my heart. I thoroughly support the decision to sell the sites and the merger of our brewing interests with Charles Wells, which takes Young's forward into the next stage in its history."

Consumer watchdog CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) offered a cautious response to the news.

"We have known for some time that Young's could not continue at its present site, but we held out hope that efforts to find a suitable local alternative would bear fruit and not spell the death of more than four centuries of brewing tradition in Wandsworth," said CAMRA's Mike Benner.

"CAMRA wants assurances that every one of the beer brands produced by both Young's and Charles Wells will have a secure future, and that the identity of Young's 208-strong pub estate and Charles Wells' 248 pubs will be safeguarded.

"We would also urge Young's to be upfront about where its beers are brewed and not try to pass itself off as a London brewery. It is a tremendous loss for London drinkers and a great shame that there is only one substantial real ale brewer left in the nation's capital in the form of Fuller's."


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