Tennent’s owner, C&C, acquires 50% equity stake in Wallaces Express

The news which broke mid-March secures Tennent’s position with Wallaces, and vice-versa. For a few years Tennent’s has been Wallaces biggest customer, so if either company had struck a deal within Wallaces case another brewer, and in Tennent’s case another wholesaler, it would have had a major impact. Therefore the new deal is a ‘win win’ for both companies. Kenny Neison, Group Chief Financial Officer of C&C Group, said, “We have a great relationship with the team at Wallaces Express and we are proud to partner with them. Whilst Wallaces Express will be run independently from our beer business, we will seek opportunities to take advantage of cross-selling for customers, particularly in wines and spirits. This partnership between two great drinks businesses will provide our customers with a one stop shop for all their alcoholic and soft drinks needs.”

Other brewers were reluctant to comment on the move, no doubt digesting the business implications, and their own agreements with Wallaces Express, but it may open up opportunities for other wholesalers.

While the feedback from licensees had definitely been favourable. Paul Waterson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Licensed Trade Association, which has as its

President John Gilligan, MD of Tennent’s, said, “This is good news for the trade. Since being taken over by C&C, Tennent’s have continued to be a supporter of the licensed trade in Scotland. It’s the biggest lager brand in Scotland, so they have a large stake in the market, but they have held the price which has helped Scottish pubs. The brewer’s other initiatives have demonstrated its support, like backing the SLTA for instance, so Wallaces Express is in a safe pair of hands.”

While Kenny Blair, co-Director of Ayrshire-based Buzzworks, commented, “We deal with Tennent’s and Wallaces Express – and I think that this will prove to be a successful pairing. What we’re seeing is consolidation in lots of businesses, and I can only see more of the same happening in the future in our industry. The synergy between the two companies will mean improved service, better prices and one delivery slot, and that will save time and money for licensees in itself.” In Peebles Alan Vannan of the Green Tree was pleased telling DRAM, “It’s a welcome move if it means that Wallaces Express delivery team,

who currently deliver for Tennent’s in the Borders, are trained as draymen should be. I’m a Belhaven customer and, as it stands, I can fully trust their draymen to handle a 22 gallon keg, for example. I can’t say the same about the Wallaces Express guys at the moment, so if this partnership remedies this, then it’s a positive step for licensees out with the central belt where Tennent’s don’t directly delivery to. It could potentially make Tennent’s more of an attractive proposition to more licensees in this part of the world.”

While in Inverness the man behind Johnny Foxes, Don Lawson commented, “I’ve only been a Tennent’s customer for two months, and I was previously with Belhaven, which has a good distribution network and technical department. I think that the agreement with Wallaces Express would be good for Tennent’s customers in the Highlands, where it lacks a bit of infrastructure.”

Michele Pagliocca of Heighrow based in Glasgow said, “I think that it’s great news for the trade, and for both companies, in these difficult times. Tennent’s used to own J.G. Thomson so, in a sense, they are back to what they were doing 30 years ago.”

Malcolm Binnie of Town House Restaurants had his own view saying, “I don’t have a problem with Tennent’s

acquiring a share in Wallaces Express, as there are plenty of big players left in Scotland to keep them on their toes. Matthew Clark is massive, and no one works harder than them for their business.”

With the last word going to John Black of The Fort in Broughty Ferry. He told DRAM, “I deal with both companies – mainly Tennent’s, with bits and pieces from Wallaces Express – and I think that they are well matched. I think that Tennent’s is trying to get back to being the one- stop-shop that it used to be. I’d like to be able to sit down on a Monday morning and know where I stand on price, so, like many licensees, this may make the ordering process less time consuming.”

Brian Calder, Managing Director of Wallaces Express, said, “This is a major development for Wallaces Express and represents a great opportunity for all our staff and customers. In terms of strategic aims and culture, the two businesses are well aligned and I am confident that both businesses will continue to move forward to the benefit of the Scottish licensed trade.”

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