Woodforde’s, the award-winning Norfolk-based brewery, has been purchased by a private consortium of investors.

The consortium is led by James Hughes, formerly of drinks business Diageo, and includes Nick Dolan from beer specialists Real Ale Ltd, and Rupert Fraser, who represents a small group of private investors.

The company, which currently has limited sales through the off-trade, is likely to increase its focus on the off-trade in the future as a result of the consortium purchase, according to a company spokesperson.

Rupert Farquharson, who has headed up Woodforde’s for the past five years, will remain as MD of the company, and there are no planned changes to the 30-strong head office management team and staff.

Woodforde’s, which is famous for its Champion Beer of Britain ‘Wherry’, is the largest brewery in Norfolk. It was founded in 1981.

Woodforde’s Managing Director, Rupert Farquharson, said: “I am now looking forward to working with James, Nick and Rupert in the next stage of Woodforde’s development. I have known Nick and James for several years and they are both as passionate about Woodforde’s as I am. Their knowledge and experience will be invaluable, as we continue to grow the business.”

James Hughes said that the consortium intends to build on the impressive foundations that have been put in place already.

“Woodforde’s has established a reputation for high quality beers and have excellent regional distribution as well as wider national sales through major pub chains and operators”, he said.

Dolan added: “We look forward to working with Rupert Farquharson and his team to help continue that success in such an exciting time in the UK beer sector.”