Union and MP seek assurances over jobs as Greene King announces mega £2.7bn sale deal
PUBLISHED: 19:03 19 August 2019 | UPDATED: 09:46 20 August 2019
Unions and Greene King's local MP are seeking assurances on jobs after a major £2.7bn deal to buy the pubs and brewery giant was revealed.
Bury St Edmunds MP Jo Churchill and union officials at Unite are seeking urgent talks to establish that Greene King will retain its full presence in the town and that jobs are not at risk after it revealed a £2.7bn bid by a Hong Kong multinational to buy it.
The deal, offered by CK Asset Holdings Ltd, a property investment and development firm, is unanimously supported by the company's board. It will now go in front of shareholders who will need to agree to the terms.
MORE - Greene King to be sold to Hong Kong property giant
But the company said the headquarters of the historic company would be protected in its home town under the terms.
Ms Churchill said she would be looking to protect its presence in the town.
"Greene King is part of the fabric of Bury St Edmunds, both commercially and culturally and I will be speaking to those at the top of the business to find out its plans for the future," she said.
"I will be seeking the assurance that the premises in Bury St Edmunds will be maintained, and that there are no plans to reduce the number of employees in the town."
Unite regional officer Mark Jaina said the union would be seeking an urgent meeting with Greene King as well as with the management of CK Noble (UK) Ltd.
"This is a major takeover of a well-known British company which will have major ramifications.
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"Our first priority is to seek reassurances for our members on future job security, and pay and employment conditions."
But he added: "We need to study this takeover in much greater detail before commenting in depth."
Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), said he was "really quite surprised at the news, but added: "It's quite a compliment that the company is seen as such a positive acquisition which reflects well on the current performance of the workforce."
Potted history of Greene King
Greene King has been brewing beer and running pubs since 1799 when it was founded by 19-year-old Benjamin Greene. The business grew and in 1887 it was amalgamated with Frederick King’s St Edmunds brewery.
By the time the two World Wars ended, it had acquired Rayments Brewery and opened a new brew house. By the 1960s, it was an established player in the brewing and pub industry. It took control of the Old Speckled Hen brand, which would go on to become Great Britain’s number one premium ale brand.It entered a period of rapid growth, taking on brands including Old English Inns, Belhaven and Loch Fyne. Today it describes itself as “the country’s leading pub retailer and brewer” with more than 3,100 pubs, restaurants and hotels across England, Wales and Scotland. It is now run by chief executive Nick Mackenzie who took over the role from longstanding boss of 14 years Rooney Anand this year.
The concern was what's going to happen to the company "but presumably it has been bought because it's doing so well and this won't affect any local staff or businesses", he said.
"Greene King is well-established in the town and the vast majority of pubs locally use their beer and long may that continue.
"The difficulty is what's the game-plan?"
The offer price was "a considerable upgrade on what it's currently worth" "You hope their (the buyers') intentions are honourable and they continue to be supportive."