This cash injection, whilst welcome, won’t go far towards easing Marston’s massive £1.39 billion debt; a burden they were planning to clear by selling off some of their less profitable pubs. Then, along came Corona-virus.
When approached, a spokesperson for Marston’s declined to be quoted, but denied there are any plans to close breweries. This is despite the two companies pointing to £24 million worth of savings said to come from streamlining brewery operations, logistics efficiencies and other reductions in overhead costs.
The new business will offer a mix of Carlsberg’s mass-market lagers and Marston’s cask ale brands such as Hobgoblin and Pedigree, and will also be able to feed Carlsberg beers into Marston’s estate of around 1,400 UK pubs.
The Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA, warned the deal could make it harder for independent beer firms to get their beers into pubs. Their chief executive James Calder, said “This merger is the latest in a series of consolidating measures within the UK beer market, and has the potential to impact negatively on small independent brewers by further reducing the access to market they receive.”
The value of the pound has remained low since June 2016, when the U.K. foolishly voted itself out of the European Union, making these types of transactions even more attractive to foreign investors. So much for taking back control! The fall in Marston’s share value, following the ongoing fallout from COVID-19, made this merger even more attractive from Carlsberg’s point of view, although they have since surged by 36%.