Japanese drinks giant Asahi has bought the brewery arm of Fuller’s in a £250m deal as a shake-up in the global beer industry continues.
Asahi has promised to keep open Fuller’s historic Griffin Brewery in west London, which has been producing beer since 1654.
Fuller’s, which brews London Pride, says it will focus on its pubs and hotels, which return more than 85 per cent of its profits.
It said the deal was due to ‘structural changes in the beer industry’ and that it had become caught in the middle of global brands and the rise of small breweries.
The company has struck a deal with Asahi – owner of Grolsch and Peroni – to continue selling the newly acquired beers and ciders in their pubs and hotels.
Fuller’s chief executive Simon Emeny said: “The deal secures the future of both parts of our business including protecting the heritage of the Griffin Brewery.”
But the deal was criticised by the Campaign for Real Ale (Camra) who described it as a ‘sad day’ for the UK brewing industry.
Camra chairwoman Jackie Parker said: “Fuller’s has been a family brewer in Britain for more than a hundred years.
“It’s a very sad day to see such a well-known, historic and respected name exit the brewing business.
She added: “We’d call on the new owners to pledge to continue brewing operations at the Chiswick site.”
The Chiswick brewery was producing beer in the time of Oliver Cromwell and was previously known as Fuller, Smith & Turner.
Until the current chief executive took over six years ago, it had always been run by a member of the founding families and descendants still hold 50 per cent of shares.
Fuller’s is the latest in a string of brewery acquisitions for Asahi, as the firm continues a spree across Europe and further afield.
These include household names such as the Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell brands.
The rise of multi-national brewing brands, along with tax breaks for more than 2,000 smaller UK breweries, have squeezed medium-sized firms such as Fuller’s.