Burton’s historic National Brewery Centre faces closure

Located in the ‘home of British brewing’, the announcement has angered British beer lovers

Bosses at brewing giant Molson Coors have spoken out amid growing anger at its controversial plans to shut the National Brewery Centre and move its relics out. Molson Coors – the brewing giant behind the likes of Carling, Cobra lagers and Worthington’s bitter – has offered assurances over the future of the National Brewery Centre, in Horninglow Street, Burton, after announcing it was moving its Carling House headquarters into the brewery centre site. The brewery centre will move to Burton’s Town House and Old Bass House buildings in the town centre.

It was revealed just last week that the brewery centre will close on October 31, giving just six weeks notice, leading to the cancellation of weddings and events booked after this date. There has been growing concern that the brewery centre’s relics will be lost while work is done to bring Town House and Old Bass House buildings up to scratch. The Escape Rooms and Heritage Brewery which are based on the brewery centre site will close, with the loss of 50 jobs in total.

Molson Coors has also been asked whether it needs planning permission to convert the brewery centre into offices and has yet to answer. If so, a decision would not be made in time for the closure of the brewery centre. Molson Coors is leaving its current home in High Street to make way for the regeneration of the town centre.

Management have said the move to the brewing museum site – which Molson Coors owns – means it will be able to keep its 500 HQ staff in the town.

East Staffordshire Borough Council has said it was not aware of the brewery centre closure plans when it agreed to buy Molson Coors’ High Street offices as part of its town redevelopment plans. It has welcomed the fact that the brewer is staying in the town.

Now Molson Coors has released a statement to explain its position. Phil Whitehead, managing director for Western Europe Molson Coors said: “Last week, we announced plans to move our UK head offices from our current site at Carling House to the National Brewery Centre in Burton.

“I know this is a decision that has generated strong feelings, but it is one we have made because we believe it will ultimately benefit Burton by allowing the redevelopment of the town to progress, creating a new use for the historic Bass buildings on our current head office site, and providing a great new HQ for our people, keeping us in the town close to our Burton brewery.

“I understand the passion for Burton’s brewing heritage, because it’s one I share. I grew up in Nottingham and have lived and worked around Burton since the early 2000s. We all want to make sure that this is a town and an industry that continues to be a crucial part of Britain’s culture and economy for generations to come.

“This passion for Burton and its brewing heritage is at the heart of our business in the UK, and it’s why we’re here for the long-term. We employ around 1,000 people across our Burton brewery and head office and over the past decade have invested more than £100 million in our Burton brewery, with £25 million announced just last year. Our new office is another commitment to our future here in the centre of Burton.

“When the council initially approached us about the potential purchase of our existing head office site as part of their plans to redevelop the town centre, we were happy to support their plans. This is because we saw how the redevelopment could transform the Washlands area of the town, bringing new facilities that will benefit the local community, which of course includes many of our people.

“But we were absolutely committed to ensuring that our head office and the 500 people who work there remained right in the heart of the town, so that we can continue to play an important role in the local economy.

“Realistically, as such a large employer we need a significant amount of office space and parking facilities, and there were limited options available to us in the town. However, we fully explored every option, and it was only after very careful consideration that we made the decision to move to the brewery centre.

“We’re absolutely committed to preserving and protecting the vitally important heritage that is currently housed at the brewery centre. We are working with our local stakeholders in Burton, including the council, the National Brewery Heritage Trust and others to protect all of the valuable artefacts and archives and find the right new home for the collection.

“We see great potential for the proposed heritage centre at Town House and its possible expansion into Bass House and the surrounding outdoor space – these are historic buildings dating back to the 1700s where William Bass first founded his brewery in Burton, and it would be fantastic to see them opened up and used for the public benefit.

“In the meantime, we will protect the collection until its new home can be established and will share our plans to sensitively redevelop the National Brewery Centre site with the local community as we progress, preserving its historic buildings, including the Heritage Brewery, while creating a great head office for our people.

“We also understand that this is a decision that has real consequences for people and we’re working with Planning Solutions Limited, who had been leasing the site, to ensure they’re able to provide the right support to their employees and customers with events booked at the brewery centre. We would of course welcome applications from PSL employees for any vacancies with us and we are exhibiting at the Burton Jobs Fair on September 29, between 10am and 3pm at Burton Albion’s Pirelli stadium.

“I want to assure you that we hear the concerns being raised and we will continue to listen to and work with the local community. Most importantly, I want to emphasise that we want the same thing – to see the brewing heritage of Burton protected and preserved for generations to come.”

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