Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) is selling the once-famous Courage bitter brands to Bedford-based brewer Wells & Young’s Brewing Company (W&YBC).
The deal will see the production, marketing and distribution of Courage Best, Courage Directors, Courage Dark Mild and Courage Light Ale transferred to a new joint-venture company. Courage Brands Ltd will be 83% owned by W&YBC and 17% owned by S&N.
W&YBC managing director Nigel McNally says: “S&N acknowledges it is not capable of developing specialist cask ales, and it recognises that we have that experience.”
McNally adds that his first priority will be to look at how the four brands are positioned, and also at their heritage. He says: “Once that review has been completed, we may look at the advertising arrangements. We will spend more on marketing them – S&N admits it has been underinvesting in favour of John Smith’s.”
It is not clear if there is an agency of record for the Courage brands, as advertising has been limited recently.
Production of the four Courage beers will be transferred from the John Smith’s Brewery at Tadcaster to the W&YBC brewery.
S&N UK managing director John Dunsmore says: “These arrangements are part of S&N’s continuing strategy to find the right organisational and ownership solutions for our brand equities.”
He points out that the transfer of the Courage brands is similar to the deal it struck when it sold the Theakston brands back to the Theakston family in 2002.
S&N will continue to sell and distribute Courage brands through its direct, regional on-trade business. W&YBC will take on existing national pub accounts, wholesalers and the take-home sector, and will be free to promote the brands within its own customer base, and to seek new stockists around the UK.