|Traded as||LSE: MARS|
|Headquarters||Wolverhampton, West Midlands, UK|
|Roger Devlin (Chairman)
Ralph Findlay (CEO)
|Revenue||£845.5 million (2015)|
|£165.4 million (2015)|
|£23.3 million (2015)|
Number of employees
Marston's is a British brewery and pub operator. It operates over 1,700 pubs in the UK, and is the world's largest brewer of cask ale. 90 per cent of profits come from the pubs division. It was known as Wolverhampton and Dudley Breweries plc until 2007 when it rebranded as Marston's.
In 1834, John Marston established J. Marston & Son at the Horninglow Brewery at Burton upon Trent. By 1861 the brewery produced 3,000 barrels a year. In 1890, Marston & Son Ltd was registered as a limited liability company. In 1898 Marston's amalgamated with John Thompson & Son Ltd and moved to Albion Brewery on Shobnall Road, which the company still operates. By this time the brewery had a capacity of 100,000 barrels a year. It was at this time that the Burton Union system began to be used. In 1905, the company merged with Sydney Evershed to form Marston, Thompson & Evershed.
Banks & Co has been brewing at the Park Brewery in Wolverhampton since 1875. In 1890 Banks became Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries when the company amalgamated with George Thompson & Sons and Charles Colonel Smith's Brewery. In 1943 Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries took over Julia Hanson & Sons, with 200 pubs. It was first listed on the London Stock Exchange in 1947. It acquired Camerons Brewery in Hartlepool in 1992 and sold it to Castle Eden in 2002, whilst retaining some of Cameron's tied pubs.
In 1999, Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries purchased Marston, Thompson & Evershed, and in the same year took over the Mansfield Brewery of Nottinghamshire and closed it down, transferring production of Mansfield beers to the Park Brewery.
In 2005, Marston's Brewery took over production under licence from Interbrew of Draught Bass, succeeding Coors. Later in 2005, the Jennings Brewery of Cockermouth was purchased and in 2007 Hampshire based Ringwood Brewery, which was established in 1978, and brews Best Bitter, Fortyniner, and Old Thumper, was acquired.
In 2007, the company changed its name from Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries plc to Marston's plc.
In late 2013, there was some controversy when it was announced that Marstons would sell some 200 pubs to new company New River Retail. The fear was that many would close and be turned into convenience stores.
In 2014, the company took over production of most Thwaites beers after the closure of the latter's main brewery. On 31 March 2015, it was announced the company was buying the bulk of Thwaites beer supply business outright and the top two brands Wainwright and Lancaster Bomber for around £25m.
The company now owns and operates five breweries:
- The Park Brewery in Wolverhampton brews Banks's and Mansfield beers plus most Thwaites beers under contract
- The Marston's Brewery in Burton upon Trent brews Marston's and Bass;
- The Jennings Brewery in Cockermouth;
- The Wychwood Brewery in Witney (which includes the Brakspear Brewhouse);
- The Ringwood Brewery in Ringwood, Hampshire.
The company operates over 1,700 pubs and bars across England and Wales, around 300 tenanted and 500 leased, and a hotel chain. Many of the pubs have different marketing concepts and themes, for example, Generous George family pubs, Ebb & Flow Cafe Bars and Pitcher & Piano Bars.
Marston's is the only remaining brewer to use Burton Union Sets; a system whereby fermentation barrels and troughs are linked together by pipework. The basic principle is one of preventing excessive beer and yeast loss through foaming, but the consequence is that the beer is in contact with more wood and with more beer, fermenting in a bigger volume, typically totalling about 100 barrels or 16 hectolitres. That results in a more consistent flavour and very little chance of a whole batch being ruined. All other large-scale brewers have abandoned that method in favour of stainless steel fermenting vessels, which while they assure (through volume) a consistent flavour, limit the use of traditional yeast varieties. They make selective use of the unusual double dropping process (for example, in the production of Brakspear Bitter), which introduces complex flavours by a period of accelerated yeast growth.
The main beers are Wainwright, Marston's Pedigree and EPA, Wychwood Hobgoblin, Jennings Cumberland Ale and Banks's Bitter and Mild. Despite a general UK-wide decline in the popularity of mild ales, Banks's Mild still outsells its stablemate bitter in the West Midlands market and is the best selling mild ale in the world. The company also owns Sunbeam, a blonde beer which is brewed and distributed from the Banks's brewery based in Wolverhampton. Sunbeam was first produced in 2011, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of Wolverhampton achieving city status.
Half of all its beer is bottled.
Marston's Pedigree is a 4.5% ABV bitter. Introduced in 1952, it is Marston's flagship brand, selling 150,000 hectolitres in 2010. It is the only beer to use the oak Burton Union System so that it is fermented in wood; the ingredients are mineral enriched Burton Water, malted barley, and Fuggles and Goldings hops.
Wainwright is the company's best-selling beer and is brewed at the Banks Brewery in Wolverhampton. It is a 4.1% ABV golden ale named in honour of the famous fell walker and author Alfred Wainwright. Marston's acquired the brand from Thwaites in 2015. In 2016, the Thwaites branding was dropped and the beer was rebranded "The golden beer".
- England and Wales Cricket Board - Marston's Pedigree is the official beer of the England Cricket team from 2007 through to 2017. Marston's is the official supplier of beer at all home Test Matches and has exclusive beer advertising rights.
- Oliver, Garrett (2011). The Oxford Companion to Beer. Oxford University Press. p. 573. ISBN 978-0-19-536713-3.
- "Annual Report 2015". Marston's. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- "Pubs". Marstons.co.uk.
- "Marston's PLC". marstons.co.uk. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- Lesley Richmond; Alison Turton (1990). The Brewing Industry: A Guide to Historical Records. Manchester University Press. p. 228. ISBN 978-0-7190-3032-1.
- Marston's: Banks's Archived April 13, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
- Marston's History & Heritage
- "Hanson's - a strong link with the past". 19 April 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2014.
- End of an era at Castle Eden Northern Echo, 15 July 2002
- History & Heritage | Marston's PLC
- CAMRA fears “domino effect” following purchase of Ringwood by Marston's Archived August 3, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Marston's: Change of Name
- "NewRiver Retail swallows 200 pubs to turn into convenience stores". Proactiveinvestors UK. 28 November 2013. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- "Marston's buys Thwaites brewing arm in £25.1m deal". BBC News. Retrieved 31 January 2016.
- Marston's: About us Archived October 23, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Our Pubs - Marston's PLC". marstons.co.uk. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- Hornsey, Ian Spencer (1999). Brewing. Royal Society of Chemistry. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-85404-568-6.
- Asserted on label
- Burton Union sets Archived October 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine.
- "Why mild ale is enjoying a revival « Express & Star". expressandstar.com. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- "Marston's-owned Banks's Brewery to bring back Sunbeam for summer 2012". The Caterer. 21 March 2012. Retrieved 10 April 2016.
- "Marston's unveil new £7.4m bottling line". Burton Mail. Retrieved 30 March 2015.
- CAMRA Good Beer Guide; 2010
- "Marston's renews as official beer of England cricket team". sportspromedia.com. Retrieved 30 March 2015.