North Brewing Co has been sold in a pre-pack administration deal to the director of fellow Leeds brewer Kirkstall Brewery.
In a statement issued on Thursday (25 January), North Brewing Co said Steve Holt, director of Kirkstall Brewery, had stepped in to safeguard the future of the brewer, as well as its taprooms in Manchester and Leeds, and its 76 staff.
Existing management at North – including founders Christian Townsley and John Gyngell – will continue to run the new company, independently of Kirkstall.
It will trade under the name Vertical Drinks Ltd T/A North.
Steve Holt of Kirkstall Brewery said: “We’ve been friends and industry colleagues for almost 30 years, North is an iconic beer brand that had to continue. Together we’ll make sure that North will continue to make some of the best beer in the country.”
The deal, completed for a total consideration of £225,000, does not include the sale of the North taproom in Birmingham, which will now close, resulting in 15 redundancies.
The pre-pack sale was brokered by Interpath Advisory, who advised North on the transaction.
Howard Smith and Rick Harrison of Interpath Advisory were appointed joint administrators of North Brewing Company Limited, North Brewing Leisure and North Brewing Management Limited on 25 January 2024.
Immediately following their appointment, the joint administrators sold the businesses and its assets to Vertical Drinks Limited and Kirkstall Brewery Limited.
Tom Swiers, head of food and drink at Interpath Advisory, said: “North Brewing Co is a renowned craft brewer that has forged an excellent reputation over the years for the quality and innovation of its beers. We are pleased to have completed this transaction, which represents an exciting tie-up of brilliant beer brands based here in Leeds.
“The deal will allow the group to move forward under new ownership and we wish the purchaser and the management team all the best for the future.”
The update concludes a turbulent fortnight for the Leeds-based brewery.
On 15 January, solicitors acting on behalf of North Brewing filed notice of intent to appoint administrators.
North co-founder Christian Townsley said “the turbulence of Covid, Brexit, material cost increases, cost of living crisis and interest rate rises” meant the business needed additional funding to meet its obligations to creditors.
Breal Group – owner of Purity Brewing, Black Sheep Brewery, Brick Brewery and Brew By Numbers – had emerged as a possible buyer, but subsequently distanced itself from any deal.
Speculation grew after the London private equity firm changed the name of one of its holding companies from ‘Breal Capital (104) Limited’ to ‘North B Co Limited’ this week.
It followed a similar pattern to the pre-pack administration deals Breal made for all four of its previous acquisitions in beer, as well as London-based wine bar group Vinoteca.
All the deals were completed using companies with names of a similar nature to those business being acquired.
When approached by The Grocer, however, Breal said it had “no interest in acquiring the North Brewing Co or its assets out of administration”.
North Brewing – founded in 2015 by Townsley and John Gyngell – opened a new £2.3m brewery and taproom in Leeds in 2020.