Woodforde’s Ltd, the award-winning Norfolk-based brewery, has announced that it has been purchased by a private consortium of investors. The consortium is led by James Hughes, formerly of drinks business Diageo, and includes Nick Dolan from beer specialists Real Ale Ltd, and Rupert Fraser, who is representing a small group of private investors.
Rupert Farquharson, who has been leading Woodforde’s for the past five years, will remain as the Managing Director with no other changes to the 30-strong head office management team and staff.
Multi-award winning Woodforde’s, famous for its Champion Beer of Britain ‘Wherry’, is the largest brewery in Norfolk with a broad range of beers that have established a loyal following in the region, while also gaining recognition nationally. Woodforde’s was founded in 1981 and operates from its brewery and pub site in the village of Woodbastwick, near Norwich. The brewery was taken on in 1999 by majority shareholders Dennis Nudd and Mike Betts, both of whom are now retiring.
Commenting on the sale, Dennis Nudd said: “After making the decision to retire we sought out the right people for the business, to help Woodforde’s continue to grow and innovate — and to protect the values and heritage we have built within the business — we found James, Nick and Rupert to be the natural choice. Mike and I believe that they will be excellent custodians for the next stage in its development.”
Woodforde’s Managing Director, Rupert Farquharson, said: “I have really enjoyed working with Mike and Dennis over the last few years and continuing the work that they started and I am now looking forward to working with James, Nick and Rupert in the next stage of Woodforde’s development. I have known Nick and James for several years and they are both as passionate about Woodforde’s as I am. Their knowledge and experience will be invaluable, as we continue to grow the business.”
James Hughes said that the consortium intends to build on the impressive foundations that have been put in place already. “Woodforde’s has established a reputation for high quality beers and have excellent regional distribution as well aswider national sales through major pub chains and operators”, he said.
Dolan added: “We look forward to working with Rupert Farquharson and his team to help continue that success in such an exciting time in the UK beer sector.”