Black Sheep Brewery and 140 jobs saved as investment firm Breal Group buys famous Yorkshire brand

Yorkshire’s famous Black Sheep Brewery has been purchased by investment firm Breal Group in a move that secures the future of the brand and protects around 140 jobs.
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The Masham-based firm announced earlier this month that its board had resolved to file a notice of intention to appoint administrators after attempts to sell its share capital failed. CEO Charlene Lyons said the company had been hit by the “perfect storm” of the pandemic followed by inflation – putting its future in doubt.

But it has now been confirmed that Black Sheep has been sold to Breal Capital, which is part of the Breal Group.

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Ms Lyons said: “I am pleased to announce that the business and assets of Black Sheep Brewery PLC and Black Sheep Retail Limited have been acquired by the Breal Group.

Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire. Picture: James HardistyBlack Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire. Picture: James Hardisty
Black Sheep Brewery, Masham, North Yorkshire. Picture: James Hardisty

“The Breal Group applies private capital, operational resources, and strategic expertise to transform and grow businesses. Breal has a proven track record of successfully transforming and growing the businesses it has acquired.

“We now look forward to growing our business in a sustainable way with the support of Breal Capital. The Black Sheep team would like to thank all stakeholders for their patience and support.”

The company, which was founded in 1992 by Paul Theakston, also runs pubs in Leeds and York.

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The sale process was overseen by Teneo Financial Advisory, which said more than 100 parties had been approached during the accelerated sales process.

Claire Boardman, senior managing director, said: “This complex and fast-paced transaction sees the continuation of a popular Yorkshire brand that punches well above its weight in a competitive market and provides important employment to the local area.

"With a right-sized funding package and a renewed focus on delivering the basics, Black Sheep has an opportunity to capitalise on its strong national following, which was evidenced by the ongoing support for the company from customers, suppliers and government. We wish the business every success.”

Black Sheep’s last accounts for the year ending March 2022 recorded a £900,000 loss.

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In August 2020, it took out a £3.125m Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and in July 2022, took out a further £1.6m from the Recovery Loan Scheme initiative. Both are in the process of being repaid over several years.

Speaking earlier this month to the BBC, Ms Lyons said potential changes to the financial model of the firm, which is a public listed company, could pave the way for a brighter future.

“The core fundamental basics of our business are not broken,” she said.

"We’ve just got a situation where there is an awful lot of Covid-related debt plus a perfect storm of all the other things everyone has been facing, but probably more so in the hospitality sector – cost of living crisis, high inflation, fuel and energy, cost of materials going up, etc.

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"All of that coupled together creates a scenario which makes some businesses struggle, which is kind of where we sit.

“With a restructured financial model, you are able to do different things with your money."

Breal Group has been contacted for comment.

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