Please watch this space for forthcoming UK Brewery Trips in 2020

With the continuing problems with Coronavirus – it has been deemed appropriate not to run any brewery visits in 2020.

Committee Meeting

A Committee Meeting was held at Castle Rock Brewery, Nottingham on Saturday, 7 December 2019. There were apologies from Bob Crumpton, Ann Mace and Colin Bodimeade. Richard Dawson (Allens) and Nick Metcalfe were also in attendance.

Minutes of the previous meeting at Stockport were approved and the action points arising from that meeting were revisited and reported on, with a couple of them (notification of change of Company Secretary and investee monitoring) attracting further specific comment.

An update on development of new website was provided, with a working template to be exhibited to all Committee members for individual comment the following week.

Accounts to November 2019 and an up-to-date membership stats pack had been pre-circulated and were discussed, as also was feedback received from members; the Committee’s present social media offering; recent and proposed brewery visits; SIBA membership etc. A paper submitted by Janet Wright concerning future brewery visits was also circulated and discussed.

Updates on recent developments at Black Sheep, Black Eagle and West Berkshire were received. Committee members reported on the other investees (actual and potential) they are monitoring.

Following the usual round-the-table discussions, it was agreed that investments should be made in Molson Coors, Heineken, M+B, Marston’s and Wetherspoons.

Some initial discussions as to a suitable speaker for 2020 AGM.

Future Committee meetings were confirmed for Saturdays 8 February, 25 April and 6 June 2020, with the next AGM also now confirmed for 13 June.

Finland/Estonia Trip 2020

The provisional timetable for the trip is as follows

29th August 2020 – Arrive in Helsinki

2nd September 2020 – Leave Helsinki and arrive in Tallin

6th/7th September 2020 – Leave Tallin

Full details will be available in the new year

Register your interest with the Admin Team by email info@cmic.uk.com or phone 0161 359 3976.

Report On Wetherspoon AGM

I attended the Annual General Meeting and a General Meeting of J D Wetherspoon on Thursday 21st November.

The meeting was held in a new venue this year in the City of London and this proved to be very popular with those attending. A poll vote was taken and your committee voted in favour of all resolutions. The results of the poll were announced on the company’s web site later in the day once all votes had been counted. Each resolution was carried with a large majority in favour of each one.

After the AGM a General Meeting was held for the approval of waiver of Rule 9 of the Takeover Code, put simply under rule 9 of the code any person or persons holding not less than 30% of the voting rights but not more than 50% of the voting rights, a general offer will normally be required if any further interests in shares are acquired by any such person. This resolution was passed on a poll vote by those entitled to vote.

After the two meetings a Q&A session was held, questions were asked on a range of subjects ranging from how many pubs have coffins? (Apparently one does), another asked whether pubs could be equipped with emergency generators so that they do not have to close during power cuts. In response to other questions the board agreed to look into possibility of providing sanitary wear dispensers in Ladies lavatories, confirmed that 90% of staff are on fixed hours contracts and that all hotels are owned on a freehold basis.

Chris Excell – CMIC Committee Member

Committee Meeting (Extraordinary)

An ‘extraordinary’ Committee meeting was held at the offices of Allens in Stockport on Saturday, 9 November specifically to discuss and agree how best to reinvest the significant funds received (or about to be received) following recent corporate activity involving Greene King, Fullers and EI . There were apologies from Sean Murphy and Mark Howarth. Also in attendance were Richard Dawson, Martin Hilton and Nick Metcalfe (Allens).

By agreement, minutes and action points from the previous meeting were not addressed but rather were carried forward en bloc to the next routine bi-monthly meeting. The only significant ‘non-investment’ matter was Mark Howarth’s recent notification of his decision to stand down as Company Secretary – John Hattersley thanked Mark, in absentia, for his sterling efforts over many years; Nick Metcalfe expressed his willingness to take over this role and was duly elected.

After full discussion and taking cognisance of suggestion from the Club’s stockbrokers it was agreed that 13 individual investments of various sizes (ranging from £100K to £1m and totalling £4.3m) would be made. The residual holdings of the Star Investment Club, currently winding down its affairs, would also be acquired.

Short AOB items included some commentary on the criticisms being levelled by others against Wetherspoons and developments at West Berkshire.

CMIC visit to Belhaven

A group of 27 visited Greene Kings Belhaven brewery at Dunbar in the Borders on Thursday November 14th 2019.

The size of our party was such that we were splint into two groups, one visiting at 11:30 and the others at 13:00. Both groups benefited from an excellent lunch and cask beers, at the nearby Brig and Barrell, handily on the corner of Brewery Lane and a short stroll down to the brewery.

We were given a most enjoyable tour with a talk on the history of brewing in Belhaven as well as a tour of the brewery which has seen a great deal of investment recently. Tom Carmicheal, our guide; had worked at Morlands in Abingdon, and was a font of knowledge and with an enthusiasm and capacity for laughter that was almost but not quite matched by our party.

Belhaven celebrated 300 years continuous brewing at the same site earlier this year. However, the first records of monks brewing and supplying Dunbar castle date to C12th-13th using water from the same source, the aquifer beneath the site. Some metrics percolated through the fascination of the old buildings listed by Scottish Heritage, that had found new life and purpose in C21st.

The brewing day is 05.30 – 23.00, and four brews are undertaken every day, seven days a week. While bottling etc., is tanked to Bury St Edmunds, all kegging and casking is undertaken at the brewery site. Malting had been a main business, but stopped in the 1960s, and the building is now sensitively adapted for brewery offices.

Knowing that we would be keen to see where our investment had gone, Tom concentrated our visit in the £1.1M new-ish brewhouse (2012), and associated refurbished sample bar the Monks Retreat, and the new shop. Because of the limitations of the site, and listing of the building, the steel framework and equipment all had to be craned in. Brewers barrels production is around 1/4M annually – and increasing. While there were around 300 pubs in estate when bought by GK in 2005, currently some 150 operate as Belhaven Pubs.

Over 1/3 of the brewery’s production goes for export, with Russia the biggest destination (five truckloads a week), mainly black stout and McCallums sweet Scottish stout. 120 different beers are produced annually, with whole fruit being used for the crushed grapefruit in the Twisted Grapefruit IPA, and there are some quite modern takes on beers along with the more traditional output. The 60/- is brewed mainly for clubs; and also the 70/- and 80/- continue in production. One ale yeast is used (there is another for lager), a 1954 strain that is replaced from Norwich every 10-12 weeks. 6 main malts are used, with another 8 as well, and 6 – 10 hop varieties. Each 180-barrel brew takes around 4 tons of malt. No contract brewing is undertaken, but specific beers can be ‘guest’ labelled eg. for the US club market. A test 180 barrels of Speckled Hen had been brewed, to demonstrate whether or not Belhaven could act as backup for BSE; achieved excellent results!

After the tour each group was offered a generous tasting of Belhaven beers with two cask ales available, keg beers, and some bottled beers that attracted interest. This visit took place a day or two after Greene King had been delisted from the LSE, following the sale to CK Asset Holdings of Hong Kong. When the visit had been arranged, we had 462,300 shares in Greene King valued at £3,924,291 pounds but by the time of our visit that proprietary interest had been entirely, and sadly, extinguished.

Chris Excell – CMIC Committee Member

Dominic Pinto – Club member

Report On Loungers AGM

On 16 October 2019 I travelled to Guildford to attend the first AGM of the recently listed Loungers plc. The company operates 157 sites under the ‘Lounge’ and ‘Cosy Club’ brands. Lounges are neighbourhood café/bars combining elements restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, generally located in secondary suburban high streets and small town centres. Cosy Clubs are more formal bars/restaurants offering reservations and table service but share many similarities with the Lounges and are typically located in city centres and large market towns. At the date of the AGM there were 130 lounges and 27 cosy clubs nationwide. The meeting was held at the Cosy Club in Guildford.

The meeting started with a brief update on trading which had been released that morning and rapidly moved onto the formal business. I introduced myself and told the board a little about the investment club before asking about the company’s approach to the retailing of cask ales. The Chief Exec informed me that cask ale is generally available at the Cosy Club outlets but not in the Lounges. This was a matter that the board had discussed only recently and, while they would like to make cask ale available at more of their outlets, they are concerned about the quality issues that might be associated with low throughput. They are supportive of the objective and continue to actively explore the options.

After the meeting I spoke further with members of the board. I was able to confirm that, where cask ales are available, these are sourced locally from nearby breweries.

The company remains one to watch as they continue to expand rapidly and expect to open 25 new sites during the current financial year.

Ian Brindley – CMIC Committee Member

Report On Shepherd Neame’s AGM

I attended the Annual General Meeting of Shepherd Neame & Co. along with committee members Neil Kellett and Ian Brindley.

We were given very informative presentations by the management team, results were broadly in line with expectations and on a like for like basis sales in both managed and tenanted pubs were up on the previous year with like for like managed drink sales up 4.3%. There is no intention of moving away from the present model of a mix of managed and tenanted pubs and own brewed beers.

Total beer volumes fell by 23.3 percentage points which was expected as a result of the impact of the loss of the Asahi and Lidl contracts. The company believes that whilst the beer market is evolving at a rapid rate there is a clear role for an independent brewer of Shepherd Neame’s size based in the South East of England with their skills and heritage. Growth in the overall beer market has largely been driven by world lager whilst cask and premium bottled beer have declined.

The company’s portfolio has been strengthened by a new image for the flagship Spitfire brand and the successful Whitstable Bay range. The Bear Island range has been introduced alongside the Cask Club with a series of collaboration ales with leading craft brewers, this month’s offering being Northern Lights, a blueberry IPA in collaboration with St Erik’s brewery of Sweden. We were given the opportunity to sample this beer after the meeting along with other Shepherd Neame brews.

Total dividends for the year amounted to 30.08 pence per share up from 29.20 pence per share in 2018. The company currently operates 322 pubs of which 239 are tenanted, 70 are managed on 13 are let on a commercial free of tie basis.

Chris Excell – CMIC Committee member

Committee Meeting

A Committee Meeting was held at The Savoy Tap, London WC1 on Saturday, 21 September 2019. There were apologies from Ann Mace, Chris Holmes, Colin Bodimeade, Sean Murphy, John Westlake, Bob Crumpton and Mark Howarth. Martin Hilton and Nick Metcalfe (Allens) were also in attendance.

Minutes of the meeting at Cheltenham were approved and action points arising from that meeting discussed and largely agreed as having been dealt with.

Difficulties relating to Barclays’ hand-over arrangements (ie the CMIC banking facility transferring across from Howarth Associates to Allens) had resulted in some members receiving their funds somewhat later than anticipated. It was agreed to upgrade the membership software package.

Investee updates were provided in respect of Black Sheep and Black Eagle, with various Committee members reporting on their AGM attendance at Black Sheep, Greene King, Shepherd Neame, Holts, Hydes and Loungers.

The recent demise of Hop Stuff was noted and discussed at length and agreed as a salutary lesson about the need to be very cautious when considering CMIC investments in similar operations.

A token investment in Loungers was agreed upon, as was the need to have a special investment-only meeting in November (pre-Brexit?) to allocate the disposal proceeds from the corporate events at Fullers, Greene King and EI.

Report On The Greene King AGM

On 6 September 2019 Greene King (GK) held their AGM at Newmarket Racecourse. Committee members Ian Brindley and Chris Excell were in attendance, together with a number of club members and 200-300 other shareholders.

The Chairman, Philip Yea, opened the meeting by speaking about the proposed all-cash bid for GK that had recently been announced.

Takeover Panel rules placed limits on what could be said, but within that he was reasonably forthcoming both in his statement and answers to questions

The proposed acquirer, CK Asset Holdings Ltd (CKA), (quoted on the HK Stock Exchange), already owns the freehold of 156 former Spirit pubs occupied by GK, having bought them from a third party in 2016. As a result of this association they have built up knowledge of GKs operations, leading them to conclude that they would like to acquire the whole GK Group.

The Chairman pointed out that the offer was not solicited by the Board, and that any decision to accept the offer would be made by shareholders at a further meeting. It was expected that full details would be circulated to shareholders later in September.

The offer appeared to represent good value for shareholders, although it was not just a matter of price. The Board had considered the value of the offer compared to the returns expected under GKs current plans and expectations.

It appears that there had been some close and deep discussions with CKA as to their intentions for the GK brand, Bury St Edmunds (headquarters and brewery), employment at Bury and Burton, the pension scheme, and more (like honouring shareholders discount vouchers until August 2020).

Assurances had been received in writing and verbally though strategy would no doubt evolve with the new ownership and management.

The Board was recommending acceptance. He also pointed out that the acquirer was not taking on any debt to fund the offer, which provided some degree of protection for GK, if acquired.

Other points raised included:(a)that the Dunbar brewery was not explicitly referred to.(b)that there was no plan to change the business mix between brewing, and managed or tenanted pubs(c)that it was a sterling offer and no change was expected irrespective of movement against other currencies.(d)despite one trenchant call (while acknowledging that the cash offer was good, deploring the loss of independent UK ownership) the Board were not ashamed and wouldn’t be resigning.(e)that though there might well be tax implications for shareholders there would be no alternative to the cash offer. Shareholders would have to take their own advice on this.(f)and pensioner discounts etc., would be looked at.

The new Chief Executive Nick Mackenzie was introduced to shareholders. He appeared knowledgeable and expressed his passion any number of times for pubs, brewing, people, culture, and customer experience and (and perhaps is genuinely passionate about) GK.

His extensive background, having qualified as a chartered surveyor, included Bass in the 1990s, Allied Domecq, Diageo, and then 17 years with Merlin Entertainment (rollercoasters and working visitor attractions were particularly highlighted).

He amplified Philip Yea’s brief initial summary on the last financial year and reading of the trading update (see appended) (GK had outperformed the market – though noticeably avoided was any straight competitor or peer comparators – and referenced the good weather), commented on the 2018/19 results (carefully positioning himself as not having been there of course) and provided comment on some key important metrics, and on targets.

Emphasis was given to the strong brands of beers and pubs, and the high-quality assets, and that work on the GK brand and culture had started. He particularly identified Net Promoter and Trip Advisor Scores and further improving Customer Experience, people management and training, avoiding discounting, strong drinks growth, and improving the quality of the estate. 116 pubs had been disposed of in 18/19 realising 17.1 x EBITDA value, with investment in new sites (7 with £22M capex) and 79 sites were ‘brand optimised’ at a cost of £20M.

Priorities included fitness for the future (digital tools for management, apps for employee comms and customer ordering), control of pub costs and efficiency, and active estate management – the right pub in the right sector.

There were surprisingly few (?) questions about the proposed takeover. Most questions were about matters of detail and a couple related to specific locations or pubs.

As far as is possible to tell, the Board appeared to offer full and frank answers. While the proposed acquirer has indicated that they intend to maintain the present group structure, the question about the future of the Belhaven Brewery revealed that there have been no assurances about its future post takeover.

Some rumblings could be detected talking to other (and small long-term) shareholders, and there was a degree of resignation and sadness. The matter, as one questioner put it, would be decided by the big shareholders with little or no consideration of the small shareholders interests. It was a bit subdued both during the meeting and over lunch.

As votes were taken on the formal resolutions of the meeting, it was noted that almost a third of votes had been cast against the approval of the remuneration report. This seems to have been related to the terms on which Rooney Anand had been compensated on resigning as chief executive earlier this year (see below).

Following the meeting, shareholders enjoyed a buffet lunch and an opportunity to sample a range of the company’s cask ales including IPA, Abbot, and Yardbird, and in the bottle Strong Suffolk Dark Ale, Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA, Belhaven Black, and others.

Your committee members took the opportunity to speak to the Company Secretary to find out what aspects of the remuneration report had caused concern. We were informed that the retiring Chief Exec had been with the company many years and his contract did not contain certain restrictive clauses that would be expected in modern contracts. The CEO had agreed to accept a number of non-contractual restrictions on his departure terms for which enhanced terms had been offered (see pages 75-76 and 89 of the annual report). This had resulted in one of the city voting advisory bodies recommending a vote against the report, and this advice had been followed by a number of institutional shareholders.

On departure, shareholders were presented with a ‘goody bag’ of the company’s products. Club members then enjoyed further refreshment at several of the pubs including a Marston’s pub and a Greene King managed house in the town of Newmarket.

Ian Brindley, Chris Excell – CMIC Committee member

Dominic Pinto – Club member

Report On The Brasserie Renard AGM

The AGM took place upstairs in a community centre above a closed pub in Pecrot, about 15km from Leuven.

There were about 50 shareholders in attendance out of the total of 300 “cooperateurs” in this locally owned cooperative producer of organic beers.

The latest beer to be produced is a bottle conditioned beer called Grezienne (the local area is called Grez Doiceau). This has immediately become the brewery’s best seller. It is an 8% bottle conditioned triple blond beer – par for the course in Belgium.

The brewer and company boss, Stephane Vlaminck, conducted the meeting which lasted an hour and 40 minutes. He was able to answer all questions without a problem !

Highlights of the company’s performance :-

~ a loss of 81,274 Euros was reported for the year to 31 December 2018, on sales of 263,776 Euros

~ the detailed business plan indicated a breakeven situation by 2021

~ there are over 100 customers + sales from the brewery

~ 24 cooperateurs were growing hops in their gardens which will be used in the brewing process !

A range of beers was sampled after the meeting.

Neil Kellett – CMIC Committee member

Report On The Fullers AGM

I attended the Annual General Meeting of Fuller, Smith and Turner which was held at the George IV in Chiswick on 4th September.

Michael Turner gave an interesting presentation giving the history of the brewing business since the late 1960s when Fullers were a small brewery in a business dominated by the likes of Watneys, Bass, Allied Brewers, Scottish and Newcastle and Whitbread to the situation now where the market is dominated by Multi-Nationals such as Molson Coors and In Bev. He mentioned that names like Beavertown, Camden Town and Sharps are now owned by Multi-Nationals. He gave particular thanks to the efforts and support of CAMRA over the years.It was announced that there will be an EGM on 1 October for shareholders to approve a distribution of £1.25 per share as a result of the sale of the brewing business to Asahi.Questions from the floor were mainly related in some way to the sale of the brewing business, including pension deficit and the recently introduced computer system. Overall the feeling for the future was very positive.After the meeting we adjourned to the bar for a couple of free pints each and a few paid for ones after that.

Chris Excell – CMIC Committee member

Greene King – AGM TRADING UPDATE

A couple of members have enquired how CMIC intends to vote its shares at the upcoming shareholders’ meeting to approve/reject the recent offer from CK Asset Holdings. At its recent September meeting, your Committee decided to vote against acceptance of the offer.

Greene King Trading statement for the 18 weeks to 1 September 2019

At its AGM today, Greene King will make the following trading statement for the 18 weeks to 1 September 2019.

Like-for-like (LFL) sales in Pub Company grew 1.5% over the last seven weeks1 and, on a two year basis, were up 2.4%, demonstrating the continued momentum in Pub Company as a result of our ongoing focus on improving value, service and quality. LFL sales were down 1.8% for the first 18 weeks, reflecting the tough comparatives of last year’s successful World Cup and good weather. On a two year basis, LFL sales for the first 18 weeks were up 1.0%.

LFL net income in Pub Partners was down 4.2% for the first 16 weeks, driven by softer LFL beer sales following last year’s comparatives. In Brewing & Brands, total beer volumes were down 6.5% for the first 18 weeks and own-brewed volumes were down 7.9%.

We are on track with our cost mitigation programme and expect to limit net inflation this financial year to £10-20m. We also continue to make progress on our refinancing programme and in June we prepaid the remaining £93m Spirit A4 bonds. We remain on track with our disposal programme and expect to dispose of 85-95 pubs this year, generating disposal proceeds of £45-55m from which we will fund the opening of eight new pubs.

On 19 August 2019, Greene King announced a recommended cash acquisition for the company by CK Noble (UK) Limited. Under the terms of the acquisition, each Greene King shareholder will be entitled to receive 850 pence in cash.

In addition, the acquisition allows for the distribution of the previously announced final dividend for the 52 weeks ended 28 April 2019 of 24.4 pence per Greene King share to be paid (subject to approval by Greene King shareholders at today’s AGM) on 13 September 2019 to Greene King shareholders on the register as at the close of business on 9 August 2019.

1 Weeks 1-11 2018 included football World Cup trading; weeks 12-18 2018 did not.

CAMRA MEMBERS’ INVESTMENT CLUB – AGM 2019

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Minutes of the Annual General Meeting held at the Victoria, Beeston on Saturday 15th June 2019 proposed by the Company Secretary and approved by the Committee on 3rd August 2019 subject to approval at the 2020 AGM

Present:          Chairman John Hattersley, committee members Chris Holmes, John Westlake, Neil Kellett, Chris Excell, Bob Crumpton, Iain Loe, Ian Brindley, Sean Murphy, Ann Mace, Mark Howarth (Company Secretary) and approximately 100 members of the Club.

Apologies:       Colin Bodimeade, Dave Goodwin, Ken & Jan Holt, Colin Valentine

Welcome by the Chair

The Chairman welcomed all members to this year’s AGM.

Chairman’s Report

The Chairman thanked Howarth Associates for their administration of the Club and for the handover to Allens, James Sharp stockbrokers for their work during the year and Hadfields for acting as external accountants for the Club.

He then reported on the continued decline in membership numbers, a net loss of 90 in the year to 31 March, but monthly cash flow remained positive. He discussed the continued effort to recruit new members and the relationship with CAMRA, discussions with the NE and improving channels of communication. Coverage in What’s Brewing remained limited despite the Club’s attempts to improve it.

He then reported on the meeting with the Board of Fuller’s in London after the announcement of the sale of the brewing business to Asahi prior to the EGM and that members of the Committee had attended the EGM and that the Club voted against the resolutions.

The Chairman said a few words regarding the recent passing of former Campaign Chair and Committee member Jim Scanlon.

The Chairman then took a few minutes to introduce the new administration team from Allens in Stockport.

The Chairman floated the idea that the Club might wish to explore the possibility of removing the requirement to be a CAMRA member in order to join CMIC. After discussion the suggestion that the idea be investigated was put to the meeting and the show of hands was slightly in favour. This would be discussed further at future Committee meetings.

The state of the markets and the Committee’s attitude to risk was then discussed, in particular the subject of crowdfunding. The Chairman detailed two small investments which had been made in Loch Lomond and Nethergate and the fact that the Committee was also looking at future possible investment opportunities.

The Chairman then opened the meeting to questions from the floor. First to raise a point was John Cryne who discussed the Committee’s attitude to the Asahi takeover of Fuller’s. Iain Dobson then raised the possibility of taking out a paid advert in What’s Brewing to try to assist with recruitment.

Brewery Visits

The schedule of future visits was detailed along with the proposed trips to Butcombe which had been cancelled at short notice by the brewery and to Belhaven which would probably take place in November.

The Chairman then asked members for any other ideas for brewery visits for the 2020 programme.

Approval of the Minutes of the 2018 Annual General Meeting

These were approved.

Approval of the accounts year ended 31 March 2019

The Chairman asked for the approval of the accounts. It was proposed and then seconded that the accounts be approved by the meeting.

Election of Committee

Four members of the Committee (Bob Crumpton , Chris Holmes, Neil Kellett, Ann Mace ) were eligible for re-election. All four expressed their wish to stand again and, as there were no other nominations, they were duly re-elected.Appointment of external accountants

It was proposed, seconded and approved that Hadfields be re-appointed as external accountants to the Club.

Any Other Business

There was no other business.

The Chair then thanked Castle Rock for their sponsorship, all members for their attendance and hoped to see everyone same time next year.

The meeting was formally closed at 12:05.

 

31 Dec 2019

Due to the current situation with the Coronavirus, we will be postponing this year’s AGM to a later date.

For those who have already paid we are happy to hold your payment until this time, you do not need to let us know. However, should you prefer to receive a refund please contact the admin team.

We are pleased to confirm that we will be holding our AGM on Saturday 13th June 2020 at The Victoria, Beeston, Nottingham.

Please inform the admin team if you wish to attend, the cost of the luncheon will be the same as last year £16.95 please make payment by bank transfer or you can post a cheque to the office. Please ensure you quote your name/CMIC number.

Committee Meeting

A Committee Meeting was held at The Bayshill, Cheltenham on Saturday 3 August 2019. There were apologies from Colin Bodimeade, Ann Mace, Chris Holmes, Sean Murphy and Mark Howarth. Martin Hilton and Nick Metcalfe were also in attendance.

Minutes of the previous meeting at Beeston (Nottingham) were approved and action points arising therefrom further discussed and agreed as having been dealt with.

The meeting began with representatives of Black Sheep Brewery (Andrew Slee [Chairman] and Mark Brady [Financial Consultant]) giving a detailed presentation to the Committee.

Members recent feedback had been fairly positive, and some useful suggestions had been made with regard to enhanced publicity for brewery visits, future circulation of AGM minutes and possible retention of CMIC units by legatees – all to be actioned.

E-mailing of June quarter-end report pack to members who have opted-in to this facility, sadly, had not gone to plan and everything ended up having to be surface-mailed – a result, seemingly, of the current web host deciding that the attempted mail-out constituted ‘SPAM’! Agreed that a new web hosting facility should be sought forthwith.

Further investments were agreed upon in Black Sheep, M+B, Marston’s, New River Retail and West Berkshire (this one subject to further Committee scrutiny of the terms of its recent bond offering).

AOB discussions concerning present state of relationship with CAMRA HQ etc.

Committee Meeting

A Committee Meeting was held at The Victoria, Beeston (Nottingham) on Saturday, 8 June 2019. There were apologies from Neil Kellett, Colin Bodimeade, Ann Mace and Mark Howarth. Also in attendance were Richard Dawson and Nick Metcalfe (Allens).

Minutes of the previous meeting at Hertford were approved and action points arising therefrom discussed and agreed as dealt with, save for details of this year’s Committee ‘rotation’ being partly incorrect.

Administration handover arrangements, Howarth Associates to Allens, were reported as progressing smoothly (with much appreciation due to Mark and Jane Howarth for their ongoing assistance and advice).

Disappointingly, Butcombe has postponed the forthcoming CMIC brewery trip on account of ‘ongoing building works’.

Reports received on recent meetings at Hop Back, Black Sheep, Restaurant Group and Fullers. After the usual discussions about the above and other potential investees, it was agreed that no investments should be made just now.

Report On The Restaurant Group AGM

On 17 May I attended the Restaurant Group AGM. The meeting was held in London, at offices a short distance from Trafalgar Square.

Whilst the Club’s interest in the company primarily relates to the Brunning and Price pub operation, the compny also operates a number of well known restaurant chains including Garfunkel’s, Frankie & Benny’s and Chiquito. During the year, the company undertook a significant rights issue to raise capital to purchase the Wagamama chain. Fellow Committee member Chris Excell was also in attendance.

The Chairman reported like for like sales in line with expectations, and said the Board are comfortable with current performance, remaining focused on achieving the expected benefits of the Wagamama acquisition.

When the opportunity arose for questions, I introduced myself as represnting the Club and outlined who we are and our interest in the company. I asked about their future pub acquisition strategy (as they had acquired a further 21 pubs during the year), and also their ambtions for Wagamama. The chief exec replied that they have very demanding criteria for their acquisitions, buying oly a very small number of the hundreds of pubs they consider each year. The Brunning & Price branding is also carried out discreetly, with each pub allowed to retain its individual character and heritage.

During the course of the meeting, several shareholders spoke highly of the Brunning & Price pubs, having very much enjoyed their visits. The Committee hald a meeting at one of these pubs in Chester and were also impressed.

Overall we remain very happy with the company’s management of their pubs, but it is too early to judge if the expected benefits of Wagamama will be achieved.

Ian Brindley – CMIC Committee member

Fuller, Smith & Turner AGM

On 24 April 2019 I travelled to London to attend the Fuller’s shareholder meeting called to consider the proposal to sell the brewery to Asahi of Japan. Being a major transaction, the approval of shareholders was required in order for the plans to proceed. We hold 300,650 shares in the company, and the committee had resolved that we would vote against the proposal to sell the beer business and brewery, and abstain on additional proposals relate to director’s remuneration.

The meeting was held at a law firm’s offices in the city, and there were about 60-70 shareholders in attendance, including Chris Excell and myself from the CMIC committee, and a number of club members who attended as shareholders in their own right.

At the start of the meeting, the chairman outlined the reasons for the proposals, and then opened the meeting to questions. There were many contributions from the floor, most speaking against the proposals. It took about 90 minutes for everyone to have their say. I spoke on behalf of the club and detailed our concerns about what the potential long term impact on cask ale production that might result from the change of ownership of the brewery. In reply, the chairman thanked the club for their support over the years and emphasised that Asahi recognise the heritage of the beers they are buying, are sincere in their ambition to protect that heritage and would not want anything to happen to the brewery having spent such a large sum on acquiring it.

When it came to the voting, the proposals were narrowly approved on a show of hands. Had the proposals not been approved, the chairman would have called a poll vote, so that the votes of the shareholders not present could have been counted. The proxy votes lodged in advance of the meeting were displayed, showing that if a poll had been called the proposals would have been carried by a significant margin.

After the meeting we retired to a nearby Fuller’s pub and sampled some London Pride, which will continue to be brewed at Chiswick but will, after 27 April 2019, be owned by Asahi.

Ian Brindley – CMIC Committee Member

Change To Contacts

Change to Club Administrators and contact details

As detailed in your last Report, as from the start of April, the administration of the Club’s affairs was transferred from Howarth Associates to Allens Accountants who are based in Stockport, Cheshire.

From 1 April the address to which all correspondence should be sent is… 123 Wellington Road South, Stockport, SK1 3TH

The day to day administration has been taken over by Martin Hilton and Janet Wright who can be contacted on 0161 359 3976 and each of them has an email address… Martin@CMIC.uk.com and Janet@CMIC.uk.com. Info, Admin and Office email addresses are still valid.

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Committee Meeting

A Committee Meeting was held at McMullen’s Brewery in Hertford on Saturday 30 March 2019. There were apologies from Iain Loe, Ann Mace, Chris Holmes, Dave Goodwin, Sean Murphy and Bob Crumpton. Mark Howarth was in attendance along with Nick Metcalfe.

The usual discussion and approval of the minutes and review of actions taken since the last meeting in Chester was conducted.

The accounts to 28th February 2019 had been pre-circulated by Howarth Associates. There were no specific questions and the accounts were approved.

Final arrangements were being put in place for the June AGM at The Victoria in Beeston. MH gave an update on numbers.

John Hattersley gave an update on the acquisition of York Brewery by Black Sheep.

Future brewery visits were discussed – Wadworth would be in July/August and Thwaites would be in October.

After holding the necessary reserves, the usual “round the table” discussion followed regarding possible investments. Various Committee members gave a brief report on the companies they were watching and, as a result, it was agreed to make no investments.

Mark Howarth gave the meeting an update on the progress of the transfer of the administration to Allen’s. This was to be completed and all in place for 7th April 2019.

Future Committee meetings were confirmed for Saturday Saturday 8 June, Saturday 3 August, Saturday 21 September and Saturday 7 December.