London private equity firm Breal has confirmed it has shut down Brick Brewery’s production site in Deptford, south-east London, with fellow stablemate Brew By Numbers also set to close in the coming weeks.
Production of both brewery’s beers will move to a dedicated brewhouse at Black Sheep Brewery in North Yorkshire, Breal confirmed today (12 February).
It comes after both brands and Black Sheep were acquired by Breal last year.
Breal told The Grocer the closures were made “out of financial necessity” and were “an essential step to ensure the future of both brands”.
“The cost of doing business in London has never been higher,” a spokesman for Breal said. “Rents and rates continue to rise and are becoming prohibitively expensive.
“For many – Brick and Brew By Numbers included – brewing in the capital has become unsustainable. Furthermore, there are also plans for the landlord to redevelop the current Brew By Numbers site, with no opportunity to extend the tenancy.”
“Therefore, the decision to relocate production for both Brick Brewery and Brew By Numbers is one made out of financial necessity, and is an essential step to ensure the future of both brands.”
While “large scale” production of both Brick’s and Brew By Numbers’ beers was to move to Black Sheep, the spokesman added Breal was “exploring locations in the capital for future small-scale production”.
The Grocer understands few of the original staff at either of the two London breweries – aside from Brick’s founders Ian and Sally Stewart – remain employees of Breal, however.
The firm confirmed it had made six redundancies as part of the closure of Brick’s production site, and would be making a further two at Brew By Numbers.
It added, however, that it was hiring for several positions, including six sales roles in London.
“Overall, there will be more staff employed, even after redundancies,” the spokesman said.
Consolidation of Breal’s brewing operations had been expected, after the firm went on a spree of acquisitions in 2023, buying up several businesses under financial distress.
In May, the group completed a £5m deal for Black Sheep. The North Yorkshire brewery had debts of more than £6m to creditors, much of which is unlikely to be repaid.
All the deals were completed with the brewers already, or on the verge of becoming, insolvent.
Last month, Breal gave further indication of its intent, spending £1m on infrastructure improvements at Black Sheep.
The investment consisted of “an entirely new tank farm and state-of-the-art brewhouse” as well as “the complete transformation of the capability and capacity” of its nearby packaging facility, according to Breal.