Pubs and brewing giant is staying put in town, says chief
PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:39 03 February 2020
Yui Mok/Adam Smyth/Andrew Matthews/ PA Images.
There are no plans - now or in the future - to transfer Greene King's brewing operation elsewhere, says its boss, Nick Mackenzie.
The pubs and brewing giant has brewed from the same site in Bury St Edmunds since 1799 and continues to do so from its iconic gravity-fed art deco brewery built in 1938. Today, it is the town's largest employer.
There were some nerves last year when the venerable Suffolk business was bought by CK Noble (UK) Limited - part of a Hong Kong property empire - in a £2.7bn deal.
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But chief executive Nick Mackenzie, who took over the role from Rooney Anand last year, has made it very clear the company is staying put.
"Greene King beers are exported to over 50 countries in the world and we are proud to say that every drop is brewed here in Bury St Edmunds," he says.
"Our brewery is one of the most iconic in the world, housing original features alongside state of the art brewing and packaging equipment.
"The brewery still brews from its oak aged 5X vats, which are believed to be the oldest continuous use oak vats in Europe. There are no plans, now or in the future, to transfer brewing elsewhere."
All the malted barley used to brew its beers is grown in East Anglia, and many of its beer names are linked to the region. Abbot Ale was chosen following a naming competition because of the brewery's proximity to the Abbey of St Edmund.
Nick joined Greene King in May 2019 from Merlin Entertainments plc where he spent 17 years, most recently as managing director of Midway Attractions, the largest division within the group.
He started his career in pubs at Bass and Allied and held a non-executive director role at Daniel Thwaites plc before taking on his current role.
The £2.2bn turnover business, which retains its headquarters in Bury St. Edmunds, started life as Greene's Brewery, set up by Benjamin Greene, who was then aged just 19.
It traded for nearly 90 years before amalgamating with rival brewer Frederick King's St Edmunds brewery in 1887 to become Greene King.
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The business grew organically and through pub and brewery acquisition until it was itself acquired last year.
It currently employs around 38,000 people across its main trading businesses: Pub Company, Pub Partners and Brewing & Brands.
Greene King runs around 2,750 pubs, restaurants and hotels across the UK, 1,700 of which are retail pubs, restaurants and hotels, and 1,050 of which are tenanted, leased and franchised pubs.
These include well-known chains including Hungry Horse, Farmhouse Inns, Chef & Brewer, as well as the Greene King Local Pubs estate.
The ale brands from its Bury St. Edmunds and Dunbar breweries include Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen, Abbot Ale and Belhaven Best.
The company remains "very proud" of its Suffolk heritage and regularly promotes links to the home county via its communications, says its boss.
"Our company logo has Bury St Edmunds beneath the company name which is displayed above the entrance to every Greene King pub in the UK," he points out.
The firm is also a member and sponsor of various Suffolk business organisations, including Bury St Edmunds & Beyond and Abbey 1000, and an enthusiastic sponsor of numerous sports clubs and organisations in the county.
The aim now is to continue to be a sector leader and to promote its various social aims through its employment policies, he says.
He wants the brand "to continue to be the UK's leading pub company and brewer, proud of its friendly welcoming pubs and quality cask and keg ales".
"As a company we are proud to be leaders in our sector on number of fronts - through our annual 20,000 person apprentice scheme, ground breaking social mobility programme, community driven charity campaigns and ambitious sustainability targets.
"Alongside continuing to provide our customers with exceptional service and products we aim to push the boundaries further on corporate social responsibility."
He predicts recent upgrades to the A14 will make a "big difference" to the business, but says further investment is needed rail and road links to give the region a boost.
"Improved infrastructure is a key component to success if we want to see businesses in the region to thrive and grow and if Suffolk is to attract new investment and build visitor numbers," he says.