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Pubs and brewery giant apologises for founder’s slavery links

PUBLISHED: 08:24 18 June 2020 | UPDATED: 09:19 18 June 2020

Greene King has apologised for its founder's links to slavery  Picture: PA IMAGES

Greene King has apologised for its founder's links to slavery Picture: PA IMAGES

PA Archive/PA Images

Greene King’s boss said it was “inexcusable” that its founder had profited from slavery.

Nick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, has been forthright in his criticism of the firm's founder's slavery links  Picture: ADAM SMYTHNick Mackenzie, chief executive of Greene King, has been forthright in his criticism of the firm's founder's slavery links Picture: ADAM SMYTH

Benjamin Greene founded the Bury St Edmunds-based brewery – which has gone on to become a sizeable pub, restaurant and brewery group – back in 1799.

He owned plantations, argued against its abolition in the 1800s, and was among those slave owners compensated by the UK government when slavery was abolished in 1833.

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The company says it is investing significantly in improving diversity and inclusion in the company, as well as working with black and minority ethnic (BAME) charities.

A sign outside the The City Tavern, operated by pub and brewing company Greene King, in the City of London  Picture: PA IMAGESA sign outside the The City Tavern, operated by pub and brewing company Greene King, in the City of London Picture: PA IMAGES

The slavery link – one of many among the UK’s businesses and organisations – has been highlighted as a Black Lives Matter campaign gains considerable political momentum.

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Campaigners are calling on the UK to address racial inequality – and symbols of a shameful history of exploiting black people – here following the death of George Floyd in the US last month while in police custody.

Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie said: “It is inexcusable that one of our founders profited from slavery and argued against its abolition in the 1800s.

“While that is a part of our history, we are now focused on the present and the future.

“Today, I am proud that we employ 38,000 people across the UK from all backgrounds and that racism and discrimination have no place at Greene King.

“We don’t have all the answers so that is why we are taking time to listen and learn from all the voices, including our team members and charity partners as we strengthen our diversity and inclusion work.”

The pub chain would “make a substantial investment to benefit the BAME community and support our race diversity in the business”, he said.


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