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Craft Beer

Building a
Better Black Sheep 


Attention all Creditors and Shareholders of the Black Sheep Brewery PLC

As either a creditor or shareholder of the Black Sheep Brewery PLC (“Black Sheep” or “the Company”), you should have received a letter from Teneo Financial Advisory Limited (“Teneo”) dated 30th May 2023, stating that as administrators to Black Sheep, Teneo are “obliged to consider the conduct of the directors of the Company during the last three years”, and requesting that any matters you might wish to bring to their attention be provided “in writing”.

Teneo are both the administrators and liquidators of Black Sheep and have a clear duty to carefully investigate whether or not the directors acted in a proper manner during the three years prior to Black Sheep being put into administration, and its assets then being sold in a pre-pack transaction to a new company called the Black Sheep Brewing Company Limited in which three of the former directors, Mrs. Charlene Lyons, and the brothers Robert and Jo Theakston have acquired a near 25% share stake.

It is important that as many creditors and shareholders as possible make their views known to Teneo, as there remains the possibility of replacing Teneo as liquidators of Black Sheep if they do not adequately fulfil their duty to thoroughly investigate the former directors’ behaviour.

So, please spread the word as widely as possible, and encourage as many other Black Sheep creditors and shareholders you know to do the same. Thank you.

Your letters should be addressed to:

Mr. Kristian Shuttleworth
Joint Administrator
Teneo Financial Advisory Limited
The Colmore Building
20 Colmore Circus Queensway
Birmingham B4V6AT

and then e-mailed to Mr. Shuttleworth at

If you have any queries as to what to say, please feel free to contact me at

This is only the beginning, and we should leave no stone unturned, so please write to Mr.
Shuttleworth at Teneo as soon as possible. Thank you.


David Nabarro
Founder of

6th August 2023

The End

Don’t say you weren’t warned!

To all of you, my fellow long-suffering Black Sheep Brewery PLC (“Black
Sheep”) shareholders, now you have nothing but befuddled memories to console you, please never say I didn’t warn you!

Long before Covid, when interest rates were at all-time lows and trading conditions were relatively benign, I clearly identified the coming apocalypse, and tried to spell out to those few of you who would listen that “The End was nigh”.

Back then, there was still an opportunity to raise new equity, properly invest in our brand, arrange for regulatory accreditation of the packaging plant, smell the coffee, or rather understand where national beer consumption, and indeed alcohol, trends were heading, and to truly “Build a better Black Sheep”. My prescient web-site spelled it all out for you.

So, to those brave souls who did listen to my wise words, I say a heartfelt “Thank you”.

But to the majority of you, I can only remind you, now your shares in Black Sheep are worthless, that fools and their moneys are easily parted!

The Theakston Family

Like a slow-moving Shakespearean tragedy, Black Sheep was destroyed by a combination of internal and external conflicts.

A sad mixture of laziness, stupidity, self-interest, incompetence, entitlement, a lack of energy, or entrepreneurialism, or vision, or common sense, and worse, led to our Company being driven into insolvency, and for us shareholders, our brewery’s disastrous financial outcome.

You may also want to forget that back in 2016, it was our founder and former chairman, Paul Theakston (“Paul”), who batted away a purely indicative approach from Marston’s at £4 per
share, without ever giving shareholders a chance to consider and perhaps pursue that possible
opportunity. Thank you, Paul.

What really went wrong?

Charlene Lyons (“Charlene”), our CEO and latterly Chairman, blamed Covid and the “Cost of Living crisis” for the collapse of our brewery. A case of anyone or anything, but not me Sir!
But it just isn’t true.

The destruction of Black Sheep and our investments in it was achieved through a combination of variable product quality, lousy branding, poor marketing, an appalling web-site, long-term static and then declining sales, increasing costs, Black Sheep’s inability to meet its totally irresponsibly over-extended financial obligations, its failure to recognise changing consumer preferences and adapt to market trends, and much smarter and more nimble local and national competition.

Poor management decisions, inadequate strategic planning, lack of governance, and ineffective leadership, all led to disaster. Allowing the accumulation of such significant levels of bank debt without a feasible plan to repay it, was entirely the irresponsibility and fault of our grossly inadequate Board.

We should also single out for blame, John Hattersley (“John”), Chairman of the CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) Members Investment Club (“CMIC”). CMIC, through Rulegale, was Black Sheep’s largest shareholder, holding 329,137 Ordinary shares, representing 13.57% of its issued equity capital, and John is a very experienced brewery sector investor.

The large and publicly declared investment by CMIC may well have positively influenced or reassured other less sophisticated investors in Black Sheep, so, when it was clear things were going seriously wrong, John should have taken a lead role as an activist investor to enforce the necessary changes.

I twice wrote to John, before the proverbial hit the fan, but never even had the courtesy of a reply, and interestingly, for an investment that was worth a little more than 3% of its investment portfolio, there is no mention of Black Sheep’s demise on the News pages of CMIC’s web-site!

Charlene Lyons

In January, one of our fellow shareholders, on the basis of financial projections supplied by Black Sheep’s executive management, generously advanced £500,000 as a seemingly secured loan to enable Black Sheep to achieve its equity refunding, on the basis that such a sum would be sufficient to see our Company through to at least July 2023. That good shareholder has now lost not only that £500,000 advance, but the value formerly represented by their 200,879 Ordinary shares (8.26%) shareholding in Black Sheep.

I visited Charlene and John Hunt (“John”), at that time still Black Sheep’s CFO, in Masham on 14th March 2023 in company with another supportive shareholder. At that time, we were seeking to develop a workable spread-sheet to, with others, find fresh equity funding for Black Sheep, but Charlene and John refused to provide us with the necessary detailed financial information despite my having signed a non-disclosure agreement, thus blocking our attempt to help. Curiously, John Hunt resigned a fortnight later on 30th March 2023, sighting “personal reasons”, in the middle of that supposedly vital fund-raising. An odd thing that!

All along, Charlene refused to accept non-executive board oversight, and most notably never owned a single share in Black Sheep, so had no skin in the game.

Acquisition by Breal Capital – But nothing for shareholders

Breal Capital Limited (“Breal”), via its new holding company, Black Sheep Brewing Company Limited (“NewCo”), have purchased our brewery’s assets for a pittance (a headline price of £5.8 million).

Jobs, some deserved and some not, have been saved, while some creditors and very noticeably, we, the shareholders, have been totally screwed and get nothing, not even an apology!

A disguised management buy-out?

Significantly, Charlene, and Rob and Joe Theakston (“Rob and Joe”) were all appointed as directors to the board of NewCo on 23 rd May 2023, but, according to Companies House, Breal own only circa 75% of the equity of NewCo, suggesting that Charlene, Rob and Joe may now each have significant equity interests in what was our Company. Did they pay for their new shares, or were they awarded them as “sweat equity”? It makes you wonder.


In sum, I am very angry at the long-term mismanagement of our Company, and believe we shareholders have been woefully mistreated and worse. As the smoke clears and it becomes apparent what really happened, I promise that I and others with me will investigate the potential for bringing a “class action”, or what is commonly referred to in the UK as a 'group litigation' on behalf of myself and all our fellow shareholders, against all those who served as directors of Black Sheep during the past three years.

Any shareholders who would like to be enjoined in such “group litigation” are encouraged to contact me urgently by e-mail at, as also are
any shareholders who would specifically like to be excluded from such “group litigation”.
Please let me know. Thank you.

I will continue to keep you all updated on any developments in this regard, via my web-site and on Twitter, where this update is available, and in the meantime, will be drinking pints of Theakstons Old Peculier or Timothy Taylors, as I suggest you should do too. Somehow, unsurprisingly, Black Sheep leaves a rather bitter taste in my mouth!

Yours very faithfully,

David Nabarro
An angry and deeply disappointed shareholder in the now worthless Black Sheep Brewery PLC

5th June 2023

A New Year round up

January 2023

Dear fellow Black Sheep Brewery shareholders,

During 2022, and despite war in Ukraine, chaos in Westminster, rapidly rising/normalising 
interest rates and a cost-of-living crisis, much of the rest of the World has been successfully adapting and surviving to changed circumstances, but at our Black Sheep Brewery (“Brewery”) it’s been yet another deeply disappointing year of brewing beer at a loss.

We hear little news, while I suspect that losses and yet more losses mount, as will doubtless be revealed sometime late next Summer, whenever our board deign to share the bad news with us.

But looking on the bright side, there have at least been three bits of good news during 2022: The appointment of the excellent John Hunt as CFO, the resignation of the entirely hopeless Andy Slee as chairman, Hooray!, and the re-appointment of the experienced Mark Brady of Spark Advisory Partners as our Company’s independent corporate finance adviser.

The undoubtedly hard-working and ever-smiling Charlene’s honeymoon period as CEO and now acting Chairman, is well and truly over. It is plain to see that though she always promises much, she consistently fails to deliver, particularly on new equity funding, and with the elapse of time, we should no longer believe a word she says about “making good progress”.

One can only wonder at her total irresponsibility in continuing to employ the brothers Rob and Jo Theakston, and the resultant erosion of the confidence our Brewery’s stakeholders once held her in.

Whether that’s through cowardice, blind-loyalty, or sheer incompetence we cannot yet judge, but she’s making a terrible mistake and we will all rue the day, probably during 2023. Perhaps, the most obvious of our problems has been and remains our board’s hopeless lack of communication with us the shareholders. Unsurprisingly, a board that doesn’t grasp the fundamental importance of regular and fully disclosing communication with shareholders, also fails to communicate effectively with our customers and other stakeholders, and ever mounting losses are the natural and inevitable result.

Good communication covers many bases and in our Brewery’s case, our web-site is amateurish, our branding a disgrace, our target distribution markets too limited, we brew too many confusing products and then misprice them.

In sum our board, committed to a declining sector of the beer market, has failed to grasp the way the brewing industry tides are flowing, and failure is the natural result. Today, with no new equity moneys in place, principally because as I have consistently warned, our Brewery is un-investible while Rob and Jo remain in situ and Charlene is targeting the wrong amount of money to be raised (too little), we survive as a zombie company only at the pleasure of our bankers secured as they are against our physical land assets. With continuing losses and mounting interest rate costs, that dangerously unstable position will unlikely last for long.

I have written to many of you during the last months encouraging you to join me in requisitioning an EGM (see and trying to save our Brewery and our investments in it. For those several of you who have replied supportively, thank you, and for those who have failed to heed my call, if our beloved Brewery goes bust next year, you will only have yourselves to blame. In your own and that of all your fellow shareholders’ interests, please think again and lend me your support to make the necessary radical changes, and turn our Brewery into the great and successful business it could and should be.

I am always available and happy to discuss my views with any of you during normal business
hours, so please either e-mail me at or call me.

Thank you.

Finally, I wish you all, my fellow, long-suffering and much abused Black Sheep Brewery 
shareholders, a safe, healthy, happy, successful, and prosperous New Year, though I’m afraid under present circumstances any prosperity will need to be found elsewhere than in Masham!

With best wishes from David Nabarro
Deeply concerned Black Sheep Brewery shareholder
28th December 2022

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