Independent brewery put up for sale

By David GreenONE of East Anglia's most successful independent brewery companies has been put up for sale for £20million.St Peter's Brewery, founded in 1996 by millionaire John Murphy and based at St Peter's Hall in the remote "saints" area near Halesworth, now employs about 50 people – 22 of them full-time.

By David Green

ONE of East Anglia's most successful independent brewery companies has been put up for sale for £20million.

St Peter's Brewery, founded in 1996 by millionaire John Murphy and based at St Peter's Hall in the remote "saints" area near Halesworth, now employs about 50 people - 22 of them full-time.

But demand for its beers, particularly from overseas, is now so strong that the brewery cannot cope with demand and a new owner is being sought who is capable of fully developing the firm's potential.

A formal announcement is due to be made at noon today, but Colin Cordy, managing director, confirmed last night that the brewery had been put up for sale.

He stressed there was no question mark over the future of jobs and it was unlikely that brewing would cease at St Peter's Hall, a 13th century manor house in St Peter St Elmham. "I would think the site is an inherent part of the brand," said Mr Cordy.

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The brewery was located at St Peter's Hall to take advantage of the pure local water supply and the malting barley grown in the area.

The firm, which decided last year to concentrate on brewing, used to own several pubs, but only two remain in its ownership, the De La Pole Arms in Wingfield - which is also up for sale - and the Jerusalem Tavern in London.

St Peter's traditional beers and flavoured ales are now sold in 15 countries, including the USA and Canada. UK sales are also thought to be strong.

"We are brewing full to capacity and simply cannot meet demand. We are looking to be sold to a company that can take the business to its next stage. It seems a natural time to sell," said Mr Cordy.

Mr Murphy, who owns almost all of the shares in St Peter's Brewery, has previously profited from the sale of the Interbrand design consultancy and the drinks brand, Plymouth Gin. The company sale is being handled by Lovewell Blake, accountants based in Norwich.

Staff manning the bar and restaurant at St Peter's Hall declined to comment on the sale yesterday, but they confirmed that all staff had been informed of the move.

david.green@eadt.co.uk

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