Japan’s Asahi buys Fuller’s for $327 million

Japanese brewer Asahi is buying the beer business of Britain’s Fuller Smith & Turner’s for £250 million ($327 million), in a deal that will allow Fuller’s to focus on its pub and hotel holdings.

The business being sold comprises the entirety of Fuller’s beer, cider and soft drinks brewing and production, wine wholesaling, as well as distribution, and also includes the Griffin Brewery, Cornish Orchards, Dark Star Brewing and Nectar Imports.

Fuller’s will retain ultimate ownership of its brand name, while Asahi will hold the global license to use the trademark.

Having carefully considered its options for the beer business and Fuller’s existing relationship with Asahi, Fuller’s board believes that Asahi is the “ideal owner of the Beer Business and will create the right environment for the Beer Business to flourish in the future and protect the Fuller’s brewing heritage”.

Asahi CEO Akiyoshi Koji said there was “untapped international potential” in the London Pride brand which can now be unlocked.

London Pride, Fuller, Smith & Turner’s flagship ale, has been produced in the UK since the late 1950s at the Griffin Brewery in Chiswick and has been the official beer sponsor of the London Marathon, since 2007.

Asahi could capitalise on the heritage of Fuller’s brands through exports, Mintel analyst Jonny Forsyth said. That’s probably a bigger driver of the deal than any desire to expand in the UK, he said.

“Tradition, heritage and craft are all factors which play very well in Asia,” Forsyth said. “Brexit could actually play to Asahi’s advantage because it is putting pressure on the value of the pound, which makes exports cheaper.”

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