Crossover Event: Beavertown & Heineken

Heineken sign

Beaver­town has sold a sub­stan­tial stake to Heineken  – they’re not spec­i­fy­ing how much but 49 per cent seems a rea­son­able assump­tion – and our Twit­ter men­tions have gone a bit mad.

That’s because a few weeks ago, you might recall, we wrote a piece reflect­ing on signs one might look out for to indi­cate that a brew­ery is ready­ing itself for sale, point­ing to Beaver­town as an exam­ple of a firm that seemed to be glow­ing hot.

Now, let’s be clear: our post was actu­al­ly pret­ty ten­ta­tive – might this, pos­si­bly that – and, though we named AB-InBev as a pos­si­ble suit­or in the quick Tweet we fired off before the post, we did­n’t spec­i­fy any names in the post prop­er because we did­n’t have a clue.

Even if we’d guessed Heineken would have been low down the list giv­en its fair­ly recent acqui­si­tion of anoth­er Lon­don brew­ery, Brix­ton.

(Although with­in min­utes of our post­ing mul­ti­ple peo­ple had mes­saged us to say, “It’s Heineken”, and prop­er jour­nal­ists soon fer­ret­ed out the sto­ry.)

So, yes, we’re feel­ing pleased that our log­ic was test­ed and seems to have held up but, no, we don’t feel like sooth­say­ers or a pair of Mys­tic Megs. What we came up with was half edu­cat­ed guess, half luck.

In the PR around today’s news Beaver­town has addressed a few impor­tant points head on, admit­ting to hav­ing swerved telling the truth because (as we acknowl­edged in our post) busi­ness­es don’t gen­er­al­ly talk about deals while they’re being nego­ti­at­ed and, indeed, are usu­al­ly legal­ly pro­hib­it­ed from doing so:

It’s been an uncom­fort­able few weeks as spec­u­la­tive rumours have been fly­ing about.  The real­i­ty is that some­times in busi­ness you can’t share every­thing and I’m a true believ­er in not talk­ing about any­thing unless it is a done deal, and up until this very day there was no deal.

It’s at this point, though, that we’ll refer to an even old­er post of ours, from May last year: brew­eries could avoid a lot of the crit­i­cism and high emo­tion that hits on takeover day, and lingers for months and even years after, if they made a point of say­ing from much ear­li­er on in the cycle some­thing like, “We some­times talk to poten­tial investors and would nev­er rule out sell­ing a stake in the com­pa­ny, just so you know.”

Peo­ple will prob­a­bly under­stand if you have to keep the specifics of par­tic­u­lar deals qui­et, as long as the very idea that you might be talk­ing to whichev­er glob­al giant isn’t a nasty sur­prise.

What­ev­er the logis­tics behind the deci­sion, how­ev­er good the news for the com­pa­ny, regard­less of whether the beer stays the same, there will always be peo­ple who feel stung when a com­pa­ny which was sell­ing a set of val­ues as much as pale ale decides that one of those val­ues does­n’t mat­ter any more.

8 thoughts on “Crossover Event: Beavertown & Heineken”

  1. I could not under­stand the fuss about your orig­i­nal post. There are whole pages of nation­al news­pa­pers and reams of web­sites spec­u­lat­ing wild­ly about which com­pa­nies are good prospects and which might be ripe for takeovers. You may have touched a nerve or two if Beaver­town are not the only lead­ing light in British brew­ing look­ing for that kind of invest­ment

  2. Beaver­town car­ried on as though they were already macro-owned any­way! Their mass-pro­duced, unimag­i­na­tive range of beers will fit per­fect­ly into the crap­py Heineken port­fo­lio.

    File them along with Cam­den, Brix­ton, Lagu­ni­tas and Goose Island, as brands to be active­ly avoid­ed. Good luck sell­ing any tick­ets for the Extrav­a­gan­za this year (that’s if there are any brew­eries pre­pared to pour there any­way).

    No great loss any­way.…

  3. Boils down to the huge cost of expan­sion; but, do they real­ly need a 450,000 litres brew­ery to ‘reach every cor­ner of the coun­try’, espe­cial­ly when some cor­ners have vocal­ly cut all ties…

    And if they do, where the hell is craft super­mar­ket beer from small­er brew­eries (such as voca­tion, four­pure, lon­don beer fac­to­ry, thorn­bridge, etc.) actu­al­ly being brewed???

  4. Have to say that (a) that’s no sur­prise at all, the orig­i­nal analy­sis made per­fect sense; (b) clear­ly Beaver­town were not at lib­er­ty to dis­cuss the issue whilst nego­ti­a­tions were ongo­ing; © the orig­i­nal back­lash against you was com­plete­ly ridicu­lous on every lev­el; and (d) I’m not actu­al­ly sure I care all that much any­way. My iden­ti­ty is not defined by Craft Beer (with cap­i­tals!); I enjoy many of the beers, but it’s not a way of life or a qua­si-reli­gious move­ment for me. I just enjoy the beers. Now in the past, brew­ery takeovers were A Very Bad Thing, because they were most­ly done for the asso­ci­at­ed tied estate, and the new own­ers did­n’t give two hoots for the beers – brew­eries would be quick­ly closed, and maybe one or two of the beers would live on in name only. But these craft brew­ers don’t own pubs, and they’re being bought for their beers and their image, so there’s no sense in dam­ag­ing either. So why should I be con­cerned? Sure­ly it just encour­ages more brew­ers, in the hope that they too might make a killing one day?

  5. I can see this hold­ing back craft sec­tor growth . Pubs with just one craft keg line that hap­pens to be gam­ma ray already exist. I’d expect head of steam (grow­ing “craft ” chain ‚owned by Camerons who are 25 % Heineken owned ) will now have a cou­ple of fixed beaver­town lines . May get beaver­town into pubs where I’d oth­er­wise had noth­ing I’d be hap­py drink­ing.

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