Woodfordes Brewery sold to consortium of private investors

After 17 years at the helm, majority shareholders Mike Betts and Dennis Nudd have sold Woodforde’s Ltd to a consortium of private investors, headed up by experts from the drinks industry with connections to the brewery’s home county of Norfolk.

The consortium is led by James Hughes, formerly of drinks business Diageo, Nick Dolan from beer specialists Real Ale Ltd, and Rupert Fraser, who was born and raised in Norfolk, representing a small group of private investors.

Both Hughes and Dolan have experience of working alongside Woodforde’s and Dolan has specific links to Norfolk having been involved in the launch of the Real Ale Shop near the Norfolk coastal town of Wells in 2004.

James, Nick and Rupert Fraser will work closely with the existing team at Woodforde’s including Rupert Farquharson, who has been leading the brewery for the past five years and will remain as Managing Director.

Former owners Dennis Nudd and Mike Betts, both of whom are retiring, are confident that they leave the business in good hands at an exciting time in its development.

Dennis Nudd commented, “After making the decision to retire we sought out the right people to help Woodforde’s continue to grow and innovate, and to protect the values and heritage we have built within the business. James, Nick and Rupert are the natural choice and we believe that they will be excellent custodians for the next stage in the business’ development.”

Woodforde’s Managing Director, Rupert Farquharson, said, “Woodforde’s is a business with passion for great beer at its very core. From day one Woodforde’s has been in the hands of passionate real ale enthusiasts and that won’t change as we move into this exciting new phase.

'I can’t imagine a more fitting team to take the baton of this special business than James, Nick and Rupert, who are at the cutting edge of the beer sector and genuine real ale fans in their own right.

'The values of passion, quality ingredients and consistency will prevail as the business develops.”

Multi-award-winning Woodforde’s, famous for its flagship beer ‘Wherry’, is the largest brewery in Norfolk and one of only a handful of brewers in the UK to have been awarded two Champion Beer of Britain accolades.

Founded in 1981, Woodforde’s operates from its brewery and pub site in the village of Woodbastwick, near Norwich. The brewery today produces in excess of 20,000 barrels per year.

James Hughes said that the consortium intends to build on the impressive foundations that have been put in place already.

Hughes commented, “Woodforde’s has established a reputation for high quality beers and has excellent regional distribution as well as wider national sales through major pub chains and operators”.

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.”