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Why Southwold is family-owned brewing and pubs group’s ‘forever’ home

PUBLISHED: 06:37 15 February 2020

Andy Wood, chief executive, at The Swan, Adnams, Southwold. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Andy Wood, chief executive, at The Swan, Adnams, Southwold. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk

Playing an active part in the community is “who we are and what we do”, says Adnams boss Andy Wood, as he explains why the brand is forever rooted in the seaside town where it was born.

Andy Wood, chief executive, at The Swan, Adnams, Southwold. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAndy Wood, chief executive, at The Swan, Adnams, Southwold. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

"Southwold is our forever home. We have been here for more than 148 years and we have invested more than £25m in the last four years in our business to ensure that we continue to innovate and make the very best quality products and experiences for our customers," he says.

The knowledge, skills and experience of the Adnams teams has made the company "who we are", he adds.

MORE - 'I would abolish job titles' says Adnams boss

The brewer and pubs company was started by brothers George and Ernest Adnams, who bought the brewery in 1872. It remains an independent family business with members of each owning family on the board: the Adnams family was joined in 1902 by brothers Pierse and Jack Loftus. Today, Jonathan Adnams is chairman and Simon Loftus a non-executive director.

It has remained a very values-driven brand, and one which is fully aware of the strength of its Suffolk coast location in driving the attraction of its brand.

Andy Wood, chief executive, at The Copper House, Adnams, Southwold. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAndy Wood, chief executive, at The Copper House, Adnams, Southwold. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

"We are proud and inspired by our heritage," says Andy, although he stressed that the focus today is on investing for the future.

The company, which has a 550-strong workforce, owns and operates a brewery and distillery in Southwold, a distribution centre in nearby Reydon, and has a vehicle fleet that supports its own 44 pubs, inns and hotels and 13 retail stores. It supports 1,700 suppliers, making it an important player in the economy of the county and beyond.

The £78m business also works closely with more than 1,000 free trade pubs and bars in East Anglia, 4,000 pubs nationally and exports to more than 22 countries around the world.

It also makes more than 34m pints a year, 250,000 bottles of spirits and has 313 wines from more than 17 countries. It exports to more than 22 countries around the world.

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"Our suppliers are incredibly important to us and we source the very best quality ingredients such as East Anglian barley to be able to make our award-winning beers and spirits," says Andy.

"Being by the coast is important to us and inspires us - we have a long and colourful history, which gives us the strength and confidence to grow and evolve, keeping us fresh and innovative.

"The East of England has so much to offer in so many ways, but the warmth of the people stands out for me. We have so many local attractions - built, natural and cultural, we have fauna and flora in abundance and an incredible coast.

"It is a joy to be in Suffolk and see all the generations, locals and visitors enjoy everything that is on offer and creating lasting memories along the way."

Adnams has invested heavily in the brand, and sees a bright future, he says.

"We are excited about the new products that we are bringing to market in 2020 and beyond."

In the pipeline are some "great" seasonal gins, "incredible" collaborations with other breweries, and a celebration to mark the 10-year anniversary of its distillery, which has now won more than 100 awards.

Adnams Ghost Ship 4.5% continues to sell strongly and it has had to double production of its low alcohol beer Ghost Ship 0.5%. "We've proved low alcohol doesn't mean low taste," says Andy.

The business is focused on sustainable success, and wants to improve and support the communities in which it is based.

"It is important that sustainable choices are available to all and we invest in infrastructure projects that make real change and provide more opportunities for everyone," says Andy.

"We also need to consider carefully the immediate and long-term impacts of sustained industrialisation in our area. We must take sustainability in all forms seriously and make decisions that focus on more than just cost alone."

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