Suffolk man will put brewery on the map

IT MAY be the Essex brewer but Bob Wales hopes to put Ridley's on the map as the brewer of East Anglia.The 56-year-old, who lives with his wife in Creeting-St-Mary, has just taken over the top post at the Hartford End brewers.

IT MAY be the Essex brewer but Bob Wales hopes to put Ridley's on the map as the brewer of East Anglia.

The 56-year-old, who lives with his wife in Creeting-St-Mary, has just taken over the top post at the Hartford End brewers.

He brings almost 40-years of experience to his post as managing director and held the same title at Ipswich-based Tolly Cobbold.

Mr Wales and his partner Brian Cowie rescued Tolly when it closed more than a decade ago but despite their best efforts the company was sold to Ridley's in 2002.

Mr Wales said: “When I sold the business here I vowed I would never do the same job again - I think it's still in the blood.

“It's a nice business to work in. It's a very pleasant industry and working for a family business like Ridley's is great.

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“I think the whole idea of Ridley's and Tolly Cobbold merging was because, unfortunately, there was two brewers and that was one too many. “Unfortunately Tolly's was the one it was decided we would close but that wasn't the end of it because Ridley's acquired some of the ex-Tolly pubs.

“It was strange selling having done it our own way and built the business from scratch but it was the right thing to do at the time. It was getting more and more difficult to find markets for our beers and was getting more expensive to produce them.

“We gave Ipswich 12 years they wouldn't otherwise have had and the whole distribution arm of the business is still Ipswich based.”

Previously, a commercial director and financial director with Ridley's, Mr Wales already has the advantage of knowing how the company operates and is looking to expand the business and ensure its future viability.

He said: “I always think a Managing Director's role is to interfere with everything. One minute I am talking about distribution and how the vehicles work and the geography we are dealing with, then I am talking to the retail manager in the pub and then I am looking at accounts, because of my financial background I get involved there as well. (Mr Wales is a qualified accountant).”

Although retirement age is edging closer, Mr Wales said he only ever plans three-years ahead and only expected to stay with Ridley's for that period.

He is now approaching his third year with the brewer and said: “Come the day it gets boring that is the day I will do something different.”

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