Monday, October 23, 2006


20 October 2006

Harveys Brewery has explained why it did not purchase the Beards local chain of pubs six years when it had the chance to do so. It could have crippled the company financially. Greene King made the highest bid and has antagonised Lewes people ever since by withdrawing Harveys beer from sale in virtually all its outlets. The Lewes Arms is the latest former Beards pub to face the axing of its local brew.

This week Barcombe resident Stuart Perry said: 'Would someone please explain to the real ale drinkers of the area why, when the opportunity arose, Harveys failed to purchase the Beards tied house estate, allowing a monster, namely Greene King, into Lewes. While Lewes is still blessed with numerous inns, there are now fewer worth drinking in because of the bland Greene King brews on offer and their uninspiring portfolio of guest ales.'

Greene King bought up 44 pubs in Sussex at a cost believed to be between £35 million and £40 million. Harveys owns 46 pubs but only three in Lewes. Harveys marketing manager Bill Inman said: 'Of course, we wanted the Beards pubs. There were half-a-dozen companies, including ourselves, in the bidding. 'We had a professional valuation. We had arranged for the money to buy the pubs at a valuation we were happy with and could afford. 'The bids were closed. Greene King outbid everyone by making a bid that was 25 per cent over the market valuation.'They paid top dollar. 'We couldn't afford to match that. It could have crippled us. It could have destroyed us.'

*Lewes Arms drinkers have collected a petition containing more than 500 signatures, including that of MP Norman Baker, in a last-ditch attempt to fight the loss of their beloved Harveys.


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