Charles Wells breweryImage copyright Mark Turner/Getty Images
Image caption The production line at the Charles Wells brewery in Bedford

Real ale producer Charles Wells is to sell off its Bedford brewery to pub operator Marston’s in a £55 million deal.

The Eagle brewery is home to the Bombardier, Courage and McEwan’s ale brands. The sale also includes the global licence for Young’s ale.

It does not include the chain of more than 200 Charles Wells pubs across the UK and France.

A spokesman said the company will now create a smaller, local brewery nearby.

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Around 300 people employed in production, sales and brands marketing will transfer to Marston’s, the firm said.

Charles Wells Ltd chief executive, Justin Phillimore, said the deal provided opportunities for both companies.

Image copyright Charles Wells Ltd
Image caption Bombardier, Courage and McEwan’s ale brands are all brewed at the Bedford site

“After a detailed review of our strategy we had decided to rebalance the company more towards retail investment – and that meant finding a partner we could work with for the future,” he said.

New brewery

Charles Wells has been operating in Bedford since 1876, with the Eagle brewery built in its centenary year. It produces more than 100 million litres of beer every year.

The deal with Marston’s also includes UK distribution rights for Kirin Lager, Estrella Damm, Erdinger and Founders – as well as the exclusive global licence of the Young’s ale brand.

In a statement, the company said it will now focus on the creation of a new, smaller brewery in Bedford to supply its 200-strong pub chain.

Image copyright Mark Turner/Getty Images
Image caption The Charles Wells operation – known as the Eagle brewery – opened in the middle of Bedford in 1976

Marston’s currently operates five breweries nationwide, as well as 1,500 pub franchises.

Chief executive officer, Ralph Findlay, said: “This agreement offers us opportunities to extend into new trading areas.

“The acquisition of the Charles Wells brewing business builds on Marston’s established brewing prowess, and is a further step in our objective to develop the leading premium beer business in the UK market, something that Bedford’s Eagle Brewery will play an important part in.”

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