John Smith's Brewery
|Predecessor(s)||Backhouse & Hartley|
|Headquarters||Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, England|
|Production output||3.8 million hectolitres (1.6 million hl of John Smith's)|
John Smith's Brewery was an English brewing company based in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire. The brewery site is still used to manufacture beer, and John Smith's has been the highest selling ale brand in the United Kingdom since the mid-1990s.
The majority of John Smith's sales are of the nitrogenated Extra Smooth product, although a cask conditioned variant is available nationally. A stronger variant called Magnet is also available in the North East of England. John Smith's Cask and Magnet are produced under licence by Cameron's in Hartlepool.
John Smith acquired the Backhouse & Hartley brewery in 1852. Following a series of acquisitions in the post-World War II period, the company became one of the largest regional brewers in the country, operating over 1,800 licensed premises. The company was taken over by Courage in 1970 who extended distribution of the brewery's products into the South of England. Courage was acquired by Scottish & Newcastle in 1995, and the operations were purchased by Heineken in 2008.
John Smith's Extra Smooth and Original are produced at the Tadcaster brewery, as well as a range of Heineken products including Kronenbourg 1664 and Newcastle Brown Ale. With a 3.8 million hectolitre capacity, the brewery is one of the largest in the country.
John Smith's became well known for a series of highly successful "No Nonsense"-themed television advertising campaigns, featuring the dour Yorkshireman "Arkwright" during the 1970s and 1980s (shown only in the South of England), followed by the comedians Jack Dee during the 1990s and Peter Kay since 2002. In addition, it is a major sponsor of horse racing in the UK: it was the principal sponsor of the Grand National between 2005 - 2013 and continues to sponsor the Northumberland Plate as well as other events.
Stephen Hartley began brewing in Tadcaster in 1758. In 1845 Jane Hartley mortgaged the brewery to David Backhouse and John Hartley. In 1847, Samuel Smith of Leeds arranged for his son John to enter the business. Jane Hartley died in 1852, and John Smith acquired the business, bringing in his brother William to help him. The timing proved fortuitous; pale ales were displacing porter as the beer of choice, and Tadcaster's hard water proved to be well-suited for brewing the new style. The prosperity of the 1850s and 1860s, together with the arrival of the railways, realised greater opportunities for brewers, and by 1861 John Smith employed eight men in his brewing and malting enterprise.
The operations became sizeable during the last quarter of the nineteenth century. Smith died in 1879, leaving an estate valued at under £45,000 (around £3.3 million in 2013 adjusted for inflation), and his assets were jointly inherited by his two brothers, William and Samuel Smith (a tanner). William purchased Samuel's share of his brother's personal estate, and built a modern brewery in 1883–4 at the cost of £130,000 (£9.7 million in 2013). By this time the company had a staff of over 100. William Smith died in 1886, and the firm was inherited in partnership by his two nephews, Henry Herbert (1863 - 1911) and Frank Riley, henceforth known as Riley-Smith under the terms of his will.
The firm expanded throughout the 1880s by creating an agency network, establishing sixteen offices in nearby settlements, and offering free trade discounts on their beer of 20 percent or higher. By 1889, the brewery was producing 150,000 barrels annually. In 1889, the company's first scientifically-trained head brewer was appointed, Percy Clinch, son of Charles Clinch of the Eagle Brewery in Witney. In 1892, the partnership became a limited company called John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Limited, with Henry Herbert Riley-Smith as chairman. In 1899 the company acquired Simpson & Co of Market Weighton, with 51 public houses, and converted the brewery into a maltings.
By the turn of the century the brewery was considered to be one of the best-run in Britain, "a byword for first-class management". In 1907, John Marples of Sheffield, the wines and spirits distributor, was acquired. In 1907, the company began to bottle its own beer, in Tadcaster. In 1912, the company owned over 250 horses, 41 of which saw service during the First World War. Artificially carbonated beer was first bottled in 1923. Paired horse drays were phased out by 1929. During and for some time after the World Wars, the Government raised the duty on beer, and forced brewers to lower their beer strength. During this period, substitutes for malted barley had to be used for brewing, including flaked barley, oats and rye.
The last of the company's dray horses was retired in 1947. Horses had delivered beer to all the areas surrounding the brewing, as far afield as Pateley Bridge. From 1948 the company exported beer to Belgium where it was bottled and distributed by Tilkens brewery. In 1950 there was a general strike in Belgium, and John Smith's hired two Handley Page Halifax heavy bomber aircraft to carry 7 ton loads twice-daily of their beers into the country in order to ensure supply. In 1953 the firm became a public company, with fixed assets of around £5 million, 1,000 licensed premises and around 1,100 employees. In 1958, Whitworth, Son & Nephew of Wath-upon-Dearne was acquired with 165 licensed houses, and the brewery was immediately closed down. In 1959 the company began to bottle imported Alken lager at Tadcaster, in response to growing customer demand. In 1961 the company also began to bottle Carlsberg lager.
In 1961, John Smith's acquired the Barnsley Brewery Company, adding 250 licensed properties to their growing estate. In 1962 the company acquired Warwicks & Richardsons of Newark-on-Trent. Whilst some product rationalisation took place, popular lines such as Warwicks' Milk Maid Stout were retained. John Smith's closed down all the breweries it acquired, apart from Barnsley, where it invested in the brewery, and added production of John Smith beers to the site, as well as increasing the distribution of Barnsley Bitter. As a result of acquisitions, by 1967 John Smith's was the third largest regional brewer in the country after Courage and Scottish & Newcastle, with fixed assets of £30 million. Acquisitions diluted the Riley-Smith family stake in the company to around 10 percent.
1970-present: Courage takeover and the growth of John Smith's Bitter
In October 1970, Courage purchased John Smith's in a friendly takeover worth £40 million (£539,847,991 in 2014 adjusted for inflation). By this time John Smith's owned around 1,800 licensed premises throughout the north of England, and as far south as Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire and parts of Cambridgeshire and Shropshire. The merged company held assets worth £137 million. By combining Courage's strength in the South of England, and John Smith's in the North, a national brewing company was created. John Smith's bottled Magnet Pale Ale was chosen for nationwide distribution across the group, and the takeover facilitated the wider distribution of Courage brands such as Tavern Keg. Courage closed down the Barnsley brewery in 1976 with the loss of 200 jobs.
After successful test marketing from 1974, John Smith's Bitter was distributed in the South of England from 1979 onwards, accompanied by an extensive marketing budget. As research by Courage indicated that Southern drinkers considered Yorkshire bitter to be superior, the beer was sold there under the name John Smith's Yorkshire Bitter. Sales of the beer doubled in 1981 owing to the increase in free trade outlets in the South stocking the beer. By 1982 it was the highest selling Courage brand and the highest selling canned bitter in the United Kingdom.
In December 1983, John Smith's Cask was re-introduced, seven years after it had been phased out. In 1993, John Smith's Extra Smooth was launched in cans. It was introduced in kegs in February 1995, and distributed to 10,000 pubs and venues. It is a nitrogenated version of the pasteurised beer, which was renamed to John Smith's Original in order to differentiate the two products.
In 2005, Scottish & Newcastle claimed that John Smith's was available in 40,000 outlets across the United Kingdom. In mid-2007, Scottish & Newcastle moved production of John Smith's Cask from Tadcaster to Burtonwood near Warrington, and production of John Smith's Magnet to Camerons Brewery of Hartlepool. In 2008 three limited edition beers were released to celebrate the 250th anniversary of the brewery. In 2010 Heineken discontinued production of cask conditioned John Smith's Magnet, although it remains available in kegs. By 2011, production of John Smith's Cask had moved to Cameron's. As of 2012, John Smith's is the sixth highest selling beer brand in the United Kingdom and the highest selling bitter in the world. From February 2013, John Smith's Extra Smooth and Original were reduced from 3.8 to 3.6% ABV. According to Heineken, the decision was taken in order to bring the product in line with the strength of its smooth competitors such as Tetley, Boddingtons and Worthington.
- John Smith's Extra Smooth (3.6% ABV). The highest selling variant, available in kegs and cans. It is nitrogenated and pasteurised.
- John Smith's Original (3.6% ABV). The same as Extra Smooth, but carbonated, rather than nitrogenated.
- John Smith's Cask (3.8% ABV). Available nationwide, but most often found around the brewery's Yorkshire heartland.
- John Smith's Magnet (4% ABV). A keg product, most frequently found around the North East and Yorkshire.
The brewery brews 3.8 million hectolitres annually (1.8 million of which is John Smith's beer), and employed around 300 people in 2008. It has two keg lines, two bottle lines and one canning line. It currently brews and packages the ale brands John Smith's Original, John Smith's Extra Smooth and Newcastle Brown Ale, and the lager brands Foster's, Kronenbourg 1664, Amstel and Tiger.
Slate Yorkshire Square brewing vessels were used at the brewery from 1913 until 1975. Stainless steel Yorkshire Squares were in use by at least 1953, but were removed in the 1980s, and the brewery now uses conical tanks. By 1953, the brewery site occupied 20 acres.
Wooden casks were still in use in the 1960s. The cask beer line was removed in 1976, but restored in 1984. In 1984 the original brewhouse was converted into a brewery museum. In November 1985 a new £5 million brewhouse opened. Production of Foster's Lager began in 1987. By 1989 the brewery had a production capacity of 1.2 million barrels per annum. Scottish & Newcastle used the John Smith's Brewery to brew many of its ale brands. In 2004, a new £24 million bottling facility was opened in 2004, described as the most modern bottling facility in Europe.
The Magnet trademark was first registered in 1911.
The company's association with television advertising began in 1970 with the "Yorkshiremen love it" campaign. This was followed by the "Big John" campaign, which ran in the North of England from 1981, and centred around a re-writing of the Big Bad John country music staple. Courage was able to demonstrate to an independent panel that the £300,000 campaign had resulted in a £5 million sales increase in the North.
From 1979 to 1986 Gordon Rollings played the dour Yorkshireman Arkwright in a campaign that was only used in the South. The campaign won a large number of advertising industry awards, and was featured on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. After Rolling's death in 1986 the campaign was continued with Arkwright's successor, Barraclough, until 1991. Despite its success, the campaign was not without detractors, with Deyan Sudjic describing it in The Times as a "spurious ... tripe-and-whippets campaign".
No Nonsense campaigns
From 1992 until 1997, comedian Jack Dee starred in the "No Nonsense" campaign, created by DDB. The Dee campaign was widely credited with helping John Smith's rise from sixteenth to fourth highest selling beer in the UK as sales increased by 65 percent, and the brand overtook Tetley's as the highest selling ale brand in the world by 1995. The Dee campaign won fifty advertising awards, and turned the rising comedian into a household name.
Dee resigned in 1997, and he was replaced in 1998 with a cardboard cut-out known as the "No Nonsense Man", from the GGT advertising agency. However, No Nonsense Man was found to have less of an impact than the Dee advertisements.
Peter Kay represented the brand from 2002-5 and again in 2010-11. The Kay campaign was described as an "advertising phenomenon", and introduced the phrase "Ave it!" into the public consciousness. Between 2002 and 2004 the Kay advertisements won over fifty advertising and marketing awards, making it the sixth most awarded advertising campaign in the world. Despite the success of the Kay campaign, the perceived "laddishness" of the advertisements were criticised by rival brewer Interbrew as hindering sales of beer among women.
John Smith's is a major sponsor of horse racing in the United Kingdom. It has sponsored the Northumberland Plate since 2003, and more than 90 "No Nonsense" race days are held throughout the year at 28 jump and flat racecourses across the UK. The brand has sponsored the John Smith's Cup (originally the Magnet Cup until 1998) at York since 1960, which is the longest running sponsorship in flat racing in the world.
In August 2012 Heineken announced a five-year sponsorship of the Kirklees Stadium in Huddersfield, home to Huddersfield Town football club and Huddersfield Giants rugby league club. It will be known as the John Smith's Stadium until 2017.
- "Tadcaster Brewery History". Retrieved 4 March 2014.
- Heineken Uk
- Alcoholic Drinks: Euromonitor from trade sources/national statistics, 2012
- "Tadcaster to benefit as S&N reveals closure", Yorkshire Post (online), accessed 23 June 2012
- Terry Gourvish; Richard G. Wilson (September 2003). The Dynamics of the Modern Brewing Industry. Taylor & Francis. p. 99. ISBN 978-0-203-44069-8. Retrieved 24 July 2013.
- Wilson, R.G. "Smith, John"', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, accessed 19 August 2011 (subscription required)
- Sigsworth, Eric M. (1967). The Brewing Trade During the Industrial Revolution: The Case of Yorkshire. Borthwick Publications. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-900701-31-3. Retrieved 20 April 2013.
- Principal Probate Registry, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1966
- One Hundred Years: : A History of John Smith's, 1847 - 1947. Tadcaster: John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Ltd. 1948. p. 14.
- "Obituary Notice". Journal of the Institute of Brewing 17 (5): 543–544. September–October 1911. doi:10.1002/j.2050-0416.1911.tb04711.x. Retrieved 5 September 2013.
- Barnard, Alfred (1889). The Noted Breweries of Great Britain & Ireland. Retrieved 18 April 2013.
- One Hundred Years: : A History of John Smith's, 1847 - 1947. Tadcaster: John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Ltd. 1948. p. 31.
- John Pudney (1971). "14". A draught of contentment: the story of the Courage Group. New English Library. Retrieved 4 September 2012.
- "Yorkshire Brewery Amalgamation". Leeds Mercury. 13 January 1899.
- Ellis, Aytoun (1953). Yorkshire Magnet. Tadcaster. p. 36.
- One Hundred Years: : A History of John Smith's, 1847 - 1947. Tadcaster: John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Ltd. 1948. p. 44.
- Ellis, Aytoun (1953). Yorkshire Magnet. Tadcaster. p. 42.
- One Hundred Years: : A History of John Smith's, 1847 - 1947. Tadcaster: John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Ltd. 1948. p. 46.
- One Hundred Years: : A History of John Smith's, 1847 - 1947. Tadcaster: John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Ltd. 1948. p. 38.
- One Hundred Years: : A History of John Smith's, 1847 - 1947. Tadcaster: John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Ltd. 1948. p. 35.
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery." Economist [London, England] 26 December 1964
- Ellis, Aytoun (1953). Yorkshire Magnet. Tadcaster. p. 58.
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company, Limited." Times [London, England] 12 May 1953: 11. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Mar 2014.
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Limited." Times [London, England] 23 December 1958: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Mar 2014.
- John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company Limited Economist [London, England] 19 December 1959
- The Glasgow Herald - Google News Archive Search
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company." Times [London, England] 18 December 1962: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Mar 2014.
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery Company." Times [London, England] 17 December 1963: 16. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Mar 2014.
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery." Economist [London, England] 25 December 1965: 1445. The Economist Historical Archive 1843–2006. Web. 19 August 2011
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery." Times [London, England] 20 December 1966: 14. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Mar 2014.
- John Smith and his Tadcaster brewery, Ward & Tattersall-Walker, p22
- "John Smith's Tadcaster Brewery." Economist [London, England] 18 January 1969: 82. The Economist Historical Archive. Web. 5 Mar 2014.
- "The protectors and the protected". The Economist. 2 December 1967.
- UK CPI inflation numbers based on data available from Gregory Clark (2014), "What Were the British Earnings and Prices Then? (New Series)" MeasuringWorth.
- McLachlan, Sandy (11 July 1970). "Courage bids £34m for John Smith's". The Guardian.
- "Courage." Times [London, England] 18 May 1971: 19. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 5 Mar 2014.
- "The Taste of Economics in Your Beer". Financial Times. 17 August 1974.
- The Times, Thursday 5 December 1974 p.23
- Yorkshire Evening Post, 10 November 2004 We 'ave it!
- "Advertising in the 80s: Financial Times Survey: Yorkshire Double Act Pays Off". Financial Times. 29 October 1982.
- "Yorkshire Double Act Pays off", Financial Times, 29 October 1982, p.19. Financial Times. Web. 19 August 2011.
- Huntingdonshire CAMRA, Opening Times 137
- Official John Smith's Website Official John Smith's Website
- Courage unveils Extra Smooth keg bitter | Archive | Marketing Week
- "The John Smith's Grand National Information Guide 2005" (PDF). Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- "Right track for Winner's Tipple". Morning Advertiser. 21 February 2008. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- Gemma Charles (19 August 2008). "John Smith's launches 'Finest Hour' ale to mark RAF anniversary". Marketing magazine. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- "Beer Blog with Roger Protz: Magnet loses its pulling power". Beer-pages.com. 21 January 2010. Retrieved 3 September 2012.
- John Smith's Brewer Denies Tax Saving Claims
- "Brought To Book, The Brewers Who Made a Name for Themselves", Yorkshire Post (online), accessed 23 June 2012
- "Do Your Bit – Case Study: John Smith's". Retrieved 9 November 2011.
- "S&N quiet on brewery's future as profits go flat". Yorkshirepost.co.uk. 24 February 2004. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- Hardman, Michael. "When Copenhagen means Northampton". Beer Tutor. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- "Gazetteer of operating pre-1940 breweries in England" (PDF). Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- Ellis, Aytoun (1953). Yorkshire Magnet. Tadcaster. p. 41.
- John Smith and his Tadcaster brewery, Ward & Tattersall-Walker, p30
- "The John Smith Brewery in Tadcaster, Yorkshire, England" (PDF). Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- Harris, Derek (19 September 1986). "Australia brews change for beerage". The Times.
- Gibbs, Geoffrey (1 December 1987). "Courage deal gives extra strength to Mansfield". The Guardian.
- 1988/89 Cm 654 The Monopolies and Mergers Commission. Elders IXL Ltd and Scottish & Newcastle Breweries Plc. A report on the merger situations
- "Heritage means little to the marketing men". Morningadvertiser.co.uk. Retrieved 13 September 2012.
- Scottish Courage gets new bottling factory
- John Smith and his Tadcaster brewery, Ward & Tattersall-Walker, p11
- "Selling pitches." The Economist, 20 Nov 1982, p.56. The Economist Historical Archive. Web. 17 May 2012.
- Campaign, 4 December 1992 John Smith's films mock ad industry
- Campaign, 8 March 1991 John Smith's calls time for regulars
- Sudjic, Deyan (5 November 1988). "Call that a pub?; Public house's must adapt to changing market forces". The Times.
- Duncan Angwin; Stephen Cummings; Chris Smith (2011). The Strategy Pathfinder: Core Concepts and Live Cases. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 207–8. ISBN 978-1-119-99588-3.
- Images of strategy By Stephen Cummings, p69
- Guardian Unlimited 10 April 2010 Saturday Peter Kay to reprise straight-talking role in John Smith's TV ads
- "Scottish Courage defends John Smith's ad". Morning Advertiser. 1 May 2003. Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- No Nonsense racing - Forecourt Trader
- BBC Sport - Horse Racing - Double John Smith's Cup boost for York racecourse
- Promotional Marketing Council: Bronze (Event Marketing), Silver (Sponsorship/Joint Effort/Tie-in/Innovative Idea or Concept), IMC European Awards 2008
- Joseph, Sebastian (26 November 2012). "John Smith's ends Grand National sponsorship". Marketing Week. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
- "John Smith’s unveil Huddersfield stadium branding". The Drum. Retrieved 3 September 2012.