BOMBARDIER and Courage owner Wells and Young's became the UK’s third largest premium ale brewer after it agreed to buy Scottish brands McEwan's and Younger's.
The Bedford-based brewer now sits below Greene King and Marston’s after it bought the popular brands for an undisclosed sum from Heineken, which fell to fourth place following the deal.
Wells, the UK’s largest privately owned brewer, also said it bought the remaining 17% of the Courage beer brands from Heineken following a deal in January 2007.
McEwan’s ale will continue to be brewed at the Caledonian brewery in Edinburgh, while Younger’s – which was brewed at a number of sites in England – will now be made at Wells’ Bedford site.
Wells, which also brews Jamaican lager Red Stripe and owns UK importing rights for Spanish lager Estrella Damm, said there were no jobs at risk following the move and that new positions would be created.
Nigel McNally, managing director of Wells, said: “This is a significant and major acquisition and secures the future for the much-loved McEwan’s and Younger’s brands.”
McEwan’s, recognised by The Laughing Cavalier character in its logo, can be traced back to 1856 and is Scotland’s most popular ale brand, with more than 20% of the market share.
The sale comes shortly after Strongbow-to-Amstel brewer Heineken warned volume growth in the US and Europe would be challenging due to the economic climate, high unemployment and low consumer confidence.
The Dutch firm, which bought some of its UK brands through the 2008 takeover of Scottish & Newcastle, recorded a 14% drop in net profits to £529m in the first half of the year.
Heineken and Carlsberg bought Scotland & Newcastle Pub Company for £7.8bn in 2008, carving up its operations in a move that called time on more than 250 years of history as an independent brewer.
Wells and Young’s, which can trace its roots back to merchant sailor Charles Wells’s brewery in 1875, was formed in 2006 after the merger of Charles Wells Ltd and Young and Co.
But Charles Wells purchased the 40% stake in Wells and Young’s from Young and Co in August this year.