Brewery bosses considering expansion plans

David Soley, (left) chief executive of Camerons and his son Christopher Soley, director and general manager
David Soley, (left) chief executive of Camerons and his son Christopher Soley, director and general manager

CONFIDENT brewery bosses are considering expansion as they celebrate the 10th anniversary of their takeover.

This week sees the landmark buy-out of Camerons Brewery by Castle Eden Brewery.

David Soley, owner of the Castle Eden Brewery, bought the business from Wolverhampton & Dudley on April 22, 2002, and moved production to the historic Lion Brewery site, in town.

Substantial changes mean Camerons is now the last major independent family brewer left in the North-East, with a site capable of producing over 1.2 million hectolitres of beer or lager per year.

A major investment in the brewery has helped Camerons secure a number of brewing contracts with major multi-national brewers such as Heineken and Carlsberg.

It also has a retail pub estate consisting of 70 outlets across the region, with pubs stretching as far north as Amble, in Northumberland, and as far south as Scarborough.

It has also built up a successful wholesale business distributing across the UK with additional depots in the North West, Midlands and south of England.

Brands such as the breweries flagship Ruby Red Strongarm and traditional Trophy Special are now available on a national basis.

Camerons director and general manager, Christopher Soley, said: “It is probably fair to say that the business could not have been acquired at a tougher time.

“Over the past 10 years we have seen total beer sales fall by around 25 per cent or almost 10 million barrels a year.”

He said the industry had weathered the “perfect storm” of duty and VAT increases coupled with overheads, the smoking ban and licensing reform.

“To cap this all off we are fighting our way out of a hard recession,” he added.

Despite this, Camerons remain confident about the future.

Mr Soley said: “Our objective is to expand the brewery supported with long term contracts and continue to develop the pub estate with ambitions to grow in excess of 100 outlets in the near term.

“Like most of the industry, we have had to re-shape our strategy substantially over the last decade. But we have laid a solid foundation on which to continue to our growth plans for the next decade.”

Camerons currently employs around 100 people and the company said numbers would grow if expansion did happen although the numbers have not been specified.