Cains Brewery

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Coordinates: 53°23′37″N 2°58′41″W / 53.39361°N 2.97806°W / 53.39361; -2.97806

Robert Cains Brewery
Industry Alcoholic beverage
Founded (1858 (1858))
Founder Robert Cain
Defunct June 2013 (2013-06)
Headquarters Liverpool, England
Products Beer
Production output
500,000 UK barrels
Owner Sudarghara and Ajmail Dusanj
Website www.cains.co.uk

Cains is a brewery in Liverpool, England, founded in 1858 by Robert Cain. The company merged with Peter Walker & Son in 1921 to form Walker Cains. Peter Walker & Son had a large brewery in Warrington so sold its Liverpool brewery to Higsons in 1923. Boddingtons of Manchester took over in 1985. In 1990 Whitbread acquired Boddington's brewing operations and closed the then Higsons Brewery in 1990. It was reopened by GB Breweries, who became part of Bryggerigruppen in 1991, and in 2002 was sold to Gardener-Shaw for £3.4 million.[1]

The brewery closed in June 2013 with debts totalling more than £8m.[2]

History[edit]

Cains Brewery in the early evening

The Cains brewery was founded by Irishman Robert Cain in 1858 when he bought an established brewery. Cain had begun his brewing career aged 24 when he purchased a pub and brewed his own ales.

Within 25 years of founding his brewery, Cain had established 200 pubs, including the Philharmonic Dining Rooms, the Vines and the Central Commercial Hotel, which are currently listed as being of architectural merit. His personal mansion had each window arch inscribed with his monogram. In 1887 construction began on a second brewery.

In 1921, 14 years after Cain's death, the Cains brewery merged with Walkers of Warrington, becoming Walker Cains. Then in 1923 the original Stanhope Street Brewery was sold to Higsons, who continued to brew Cains ales.

In 1985, Higsons was bought by Boddingtons of Manchester. Five years later Boddingtons opted to concentrate on pub ownership and sold all its breweries to Whitbread, at which point the Stanhope Street site was closed.

Rebirth of Cains[edit]

The Stanhope site with its modern canning lines had been heavily invested in under Boddingtons' ownership and appeared an attractive asset. It was acquired by the previous owners of Gee Bee Soft Drinks who had sold that business to Princes. The new owners re-established the business under the Robert Cain brand but most of their production was focused on production for supermarkets.

Viewing Cains as a route into the UK market, Faxe Bryggeri A/S (now Royal Unibrew) then acquired the company and invested in its ales and local pubs. Unlike its larger competitor Carlsberg, Faxe failed to crack the UK market and put Cains up for sale in 2002.

The Dusanj Era[edit]

Cains was acquired in 2002 by the Dusanj brothers making them the first Asian owners of a British brewery. At the time it had a turnover of £30 million.

In June 2007, a reverse takeover of AIM-listed pub operator Honeycombe Leisure plc was agreed by the company's board, giving Cains access to Honeycombe's 109 outlets and a stock market listing. The company was renamed Cains Beer Company PLC.

On 7 August 2008 the company was placed in administration due to unpaid tax and other debts amounting to £38 million. Negotiations with its bank failed to reach a conclusion that would have avoided administration. The brewery and eight original pubs were bought back by the Dusanj brothers for £103,750. As the Dusanji family holds the freehold to the Brewery site and controls the terms of any lease for brewery operation, no other buyer could be found.

In April 2013, Cains announced it would be ending contract brewing and production of supermarket beers. A month later, it said it would cease brewing altogether and find a contract brewer for its beers. 38 staff were made redundant.[3] In the same month, Liverpool CAMRA reported that Cains was down to an estate of three pubs – the Brewery Tap, Dr Duncan's and The Dispensary.[4] However, a 2015 news articles state that Cains still has an estate of five pubs. The additional two pubs are thought to be the two out-of-town pubs Kelly's Dispensary in Smithdown Road and The Edinburgh in Wavertree.[5]

In the summer of 2013, Cains announced a redevelopment of the site for leisure and housing with a small craft brewery proposed to continue the Cains ales.[6]

In January 2014, Cains was reported to have arranged for small quantities of its beers to be contract-brewed for export and sale in its small pub estate. The contract brewery was not cited.[7]

Potential Craft Brewery[edit]

In August 2013, co-owner Sudarghara Dusanj said that he hoped Cains would have its own microbrewery up and running in time for the start of the International Festival of Business in June 2014. However, the microbrewery had yet to launch as of Spring 2016.[8]

Over two years later in October 2015, Sudarghara Dusanj was again talking up the prospects of a Cains craft brewery to the Liverpool Echo with 2016 the implied date. He told the paper “The timing depends on getting the other parts of the listed building lined up with other users, including a hotel, restaurants and a market. If that can all come together, we don’t see any reason why it can’t open by 2017.”[5]

However, a Cains craft brewery would face competition from a new Higsons Brewery which looks to set up a very similar attraction around the corner.[9]

Cains Brewery Village[edit]

Liverpool City Council granted planning permission for what was to become known as the Cains Brewery Village in November 2013. This was described as a tourism, leisure and retail attraction. The million square foot site will include a 94-bedroom hotel, cinema, bistro bar, restaurants and an open-plan retail hall for artisan food producers.[10][11]

In March 2014 the UK Government decided not to not hold a public enquiry into the redevelopment, possibility due to its large scale.[12]

June 2014 saw potential tenant Baltic Yards Ltd's plans unveiled for a Sunday market in Brewery Village. Baltic Yards was described as being an urban bazaar.[13] However, the company failed to get off the ground and was dissolved in November 2015.[14]

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