Oxford's Morrells Brewery is selling its 132 pubs and historic city brewery.

The company's 77 workers face redundancy with the St Thomas' Street brewery almost certain to be closed and the site sold.

Workers reacted in stunned silence to the news of the sale. One worker said afterwards: "Everything is going. Everybody is gutted, we are completely numb."

Chief Executive Ken Hodgson offered little hope of jobs being saved. He said today: "We hope that someone will buy the whole business. Regrettably we feel that it is unlikely, though not impossible, that the brewery will continue as a brewery. It is a very sad day for Oxford.

"We will be asking prospective purchasers what their plans are for employees and if job losses are necessary a full redundancy package will be offered."

He said the company hoped to sell its pubs as a block. He said there had already been strong interest and predicted the sale would be complete by October.

The Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) today condemned the sell-off. Its head of campaigns Mike Benner said: "It is a scandalous attempt to wreck a viable profit-making company. "The management of this affair has been outrageous. It appears they have forgotten, not only about their own workforce, but about the thousands of devoted consumers who have stood by Morrells through thick and thin."

Workers and tenants were told the news at a series of meetings today. The sale will include the brewery, 132 tenanted pubs and the free trade business.

One worker said: "I thought it was going to be a take-over. There are several interested people. But it is unlikely if there is a buyer found they will keep it open." Mr Hodgson told workers the sale followed a strategic review of the business.

He said: "We really can't continue to act as if Queen Victoria was still on the throne. We have had to face reality. The truth is that this company has been under-performing for years.

"Given our long history in Oxford, the decision to sell has not been easy. However, we have explored every avenue and we sincerely believe that by selling the business and the assets of the company we are acting in the best interests of the greatest number of people concerned.

"Major changes in the UK brewing industry over the last decade have left Morrells unable to compete effectively." He said the sell off could be good news for pub tenants who would benefit from extra investment."

He added: "In recent years, while Morrells has been profitable, it has not been generating enough profit to enable it to invest sufficiently in its pub estate.

"In addition, environmental issues have made it difficult and costly to operate a brewery here in the centre of Oxford. It is for this reason that we are looking to sell."

Mr Hodgson confirmed their had been considerable interest in the city of London and from Oxford .

Morrells was founded in 1782 and is Oxford's only brewery. The first brew house on the site was created in 1570.

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