Bass produces seven million barrels of beer a year, making it the second largest brewer in the UK with a 20 per cent share of the market. It owns Carling, the country's most popular beer brand, and has a history stretching all the way back to 1777.
When Coors bought the business from Belgian brewer Interbrew in February 2002, it consolidated its position as one of the world's top 10 brewers.
Mergers are never easy, but when they involve two companies as different as a dynamic American brewer from Golden, Colorado, and a proud, traditional brewer from the north of England, the potential for problems was considerable.
Coors decided that to make the merger a success, it needed to engage its 3,000 new UK employees in its values and vision of the company's future.
Mark Pearson, HR director at Coors in the UK, had worked with events production agency EventWorks on sales conferences before, and so he was keen to involve the agency at an early stage.
"We wanted to put on some events, because they are a highly visible form of communication and would clearly demonstrate that we were making an effort to tackle the key questions about how to drive the business forward," explains Pearson.
In the early discussions, Jeremy Starling, managing director of EventWorks, laid out his philosophy.
"First, employees need to own the values. It's more about involvement than engagement," says Starling. "Second, it is the role of company leaders to define the 'why' and 'what' of an organisation, but it is the role of those who actually do the work to define the 'how'. Third, events are the most powerful way of communicating, but most companies just waste time and money on them. Too many events are designed with the ego of the speakers in mind, and so are boring for the attendees."
The first stage was a pilot designed by the 38 members of the company's leadership group. Then, through a series of focus groups, the company gained feedback from 60 staff on the proposed process.
The team of 40 facilitators rolled out the eight-month long programme of 80 meetings of four hours each, at locations across the UK.
Each event followed the same format. A board member outlined what the company's values and vision are, and why they are important. Then employees brainstormed in groups about how to exhibit those values, and p