News - Lion Pty Limited, Corporate Office

News - Lion Pty Limited, Corporate Office

Lion Pty Limited, Corporate Office


News - Lion Pty Limited, Corporate Office


Australia: Lion to take over sales and marketing of Brooklyn Brewery beers in Australia  (

Lion will take over the marketing, sales and distribution of Brooklyn Brewery beers in Australia in a new agreement signed with the US brewer, Beer & Brewer reported on November 8.

In addition the new deal will also see Little Creatures Geelong brew Brooklyn Brewery Lager under licence, with the broader range of Brooklyn Brewery beers continuing to be imported for distribution.

Speaking about the agreement Lion’s General Manager Craft, Gordon Treanor, said: “Brooklyn Brewery is one of the world’s most iconic craft breweries and has played a fundamental role in the growth of craft beer in the United States and across the globe.

“We are excited to welcome Brooklyn Brewery into Lion’s craft portfolio. We see strong potential to grow Brooklyn Brewery Lager and their full range of fantastic, flavoursome beers.”

The venture will build on the success of Brooklyn Brewery’s partnership with Premium Beverages in Australia and Robin Ottaway, President of Brooklyn Brewery, said: “We are thrilled to begin working with Lion and take the next step in Brooklyn Brewery’s evolution in Australia.

“They’ve got an outstanding track record over the last two decades of building successful craft brands. We are also very appreciative of the work that Coopers has done in successfully establishing the Brooklyn brand in Australia.”

The new agreement will commence on 17 December 2018, and Brooklyn Brewery stock will be available for trade to order through Lion from that date. Brooklyn Brewery beers will be distributed through Malt Shovel.


UK: Acquisitions of craft breweries by multinationals could become a wider industry trend   (

New research into the UK’s brewing industry suggests that the spate of recent acquisitions of small craft breweries by multinationals could become a wider industry trend, The Morning Advertiser reported on August 29.

Over the past five years, the number of small UK breweries has risen by 64%, creating an overcrowded marketplace. This rise has been in part due to tax breaks such as Small Breweries' Relief (introduced in 2002), but also due to the popularity of craft beer produced by independent breweries.

The research, provided by financial intelligence provider Plimsoll Publishing, suggests that many of these breweries are trying to compete with rising costs, falling margins and a lack of investment, and hence further buyouts could be on the cards.

David Pattison, senior analyst at financial intelligence provider Plimsoll Publishing, said: “The arrival of such a large number of small companies means the brewing industry has become highly fragmented; 70% companies are run with less than £500,000 of investment."

Pattison continued: “Costs are rising faster than sales and for the first time in nine years, margins have fallen below 4%. This lack of investment means that some companies will struggle to grow, even if demand for their product is high.”

Faced with these dilemmas, an increasing number of breweries are turning to multinationals to finance further expansion and growth. Earlier this summer, Beavertown Brewery sold a minority stake of its business to Heineken while, last month, Fourpure announced it had sold to Australian and New Zealand beverage company Lion.

However, there is no guarantee that small breweries will find a buyer or investor, as larger breweries struggle with declining profits.

Pattinson added: “Among so much competition, small breweries may find attracting a buyer a challenge. What’s more, the increasing popularity of craft beer has also affected the market leaders and 22 of the UK’s 50 largest breweries have seen profits fall.

“Many large brands have already introduced craft-style beers to their ranges in an attempt to capture a share of this demand and boost profits."

One possible solution mooted by Plimsoll Publishing is for more smaller breweries to investigate the possibility of merging, enabling them to benefit from economies of scale and make the transition onto the beer duty escalator less painful.

Pattison said: “We have already seen a trend in the decrease of asset values, suggesting that companies are becoming leaner. But if a number of smaller breweries were to merge, share costs and resources, this could allow them to benefit from economies of scale, allowing them to raise more capital and, ultimately, become more competitive.”


Australia & UK: Australia's Lion acquires London-based craft brewery Fourpure Brewing Co  (

Australian headquartered beverage and food company Lion has acquired London-based craft brewery Fourpure Brewing Co for an undisclosed sum, the Morning Advertiser reported on July 9.

The deal will see Fourpure Brewing Co become 100% owned by Lion, while the company, which is in turn owned by Kirin Holdings Company Limited, has plans to use Fourpure’s sales and distribution channels to expand the reach of its Australian and New Zealand beers in the UK.

Lion has stated its intent to invest in continuing to grow the Fourpure brand. The brewery will remain at its current location in Bermondsey, while Daniel Lowe remains CEO with co-founder and brother Tom Lowe also remaining with the company.

Explaining the decision to sell the business to Lion, Daniel Lowe highlighted the “technical skills and experience” of Lion and its stewardship of Australian brewery Little Creatures.

“We’ve always been quite open about the fact that to continue with the growth we have had and to continue to invest in quality and infrastructure we couldn’t make that journey alone,” he said. “In terms of the resources and capital but also technical skills and experience which we just don’t have and would like access to.”

“We spent a long time listening to offers and looked at more traditional methods of funding, but around three months ago we met with the Lion team and very quickly it became something that was very exciting to both of us.

Lowe added: “These guys have got a huge focus on people and culture, and we’ve been hugely impressed by their stewardship of brands like Little Creatures. When you look at that brand and its growth and strength through the time they have been involved, that made us realise very quickly that these were the kinds of people we wanted to be involved with further.”

Lion global market’s managing director Matt Tapper pointed to Fourpure’s commitment to people and brewing as key factors in the decision to invest in the brand.

He said: “The first time I met Dan and Tom and the team at the site a couple of things stood out: the passion and the quality of the people and the focus and investment in the brewing equipment and sensory lab, which is pretty unique for a brewery of that size. These are guys who are serious and committed to making great beer.

“We thought about what we could bring and what value we could add, and we think that there is a great opportunity to continue to invest in quality and in capacity. We’ll also be investing heavily in people in all areas across the board. More people on the ground will help us introduce the brand to more customers and make us really easy to do business with.”

Lion will also invest heavily in Fourpure’s Bermondsey brewing facility and taproom. Lowe refused to put a figure on any future investment, but stated it would be “considerably more” than the £2 mln investment it saw last year.

Another week, another stake of an independent London brewery is snapped up by a multi-national, further demonstrating the strength of the capital’s brewing scene. However, this acquisition, which sees Fourpure become a wholly owned subsidiary of Lion, could prove to be extremely beneficial to both parties.

From Lion’s perspective, the addition of Fourpure not only sees the company purchase a multi-award winning and rapidly growing brewery, but also a team of 70 employees and a network with which to bring some of its Australian and New Zealand beer brands to the UK. Lowe and Tapper both admitted that Fourpure will eventually be helping to promote and distribute Lion brands, something that Lowe believes is a “natural next stage” in the relationship. For a company with a very limited presence in the UK, this acquisition could prove to be a very shrewd one indeed.

For Fourpure, the benefits of this deal are primarily in the experience and technical expertise that Lion has in growing beer brands both in local and global markets. Lowe has stated that Fourpure’s focus will remain in the UK (less than 10% of the company’s overall business is currently in export) but there will certainly be opportunities for overseas growth, particularly in the Australian and New Zealand markets where Lion is so dominant. Lion’s longstanding commitment to sustainability and reducing its manufacturing footprint will also have been appealing to Fourpure when weighing up the deal.

While UK consumers may not be overly familiar with Lion or its portfolio of products, they shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that the company is any less influential than the more well-known multi-national drinks companies. Lion employs more than 6,500 people acoss the globe and has a global revenue of more than A$5 bln. It owns 34 production sites globally including large breweries, wineries, dairy farms and juice factories, and is in turn owned by Kirin, which also owns 48% of San Miguel Brewery, among others. Small and independent it is not.

Lowe insists he is “not particularly” worried about the potential backlash to this deal from the UK craft beer scene, but it will be interesting to see if the outcry is as loud or as ferocious as it was when the Beavertown-Heineken deal was announced last month.

The acquisition also takes the number of Lion employees based in the UK from four to 74, and Tapper hinted that the company would seek to use Fourpure’s sales and distribution network to promote other brands in its portfolio.

“We’re great believers in craft and one of our beliefs is that craft is quite inherently local,” he said. “We want to over time to set up Little Creatures and (New Zealand brewery) Panhead to flank Fourpure in the UK. In the short term, however, we are just looking forward to helping the Fourpure team grow.”

The commercial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed by either party. However, Tapper stated that the fee paid by Lion “reflects the great job that Dan and Tom have done to date” and its “confidence in the journey that we are going to continue to go on”.

On the subject of how he felt UK drinkers might react to the sale, Lowe said: “My concern is with our customers and with our beer quality. I think we have been pretty clear and authentic with what we have done and our message. Am I worried? Not particularly. Haters will hate and people will say what they want to say, but ultimately the people drinking the beer will have the final word.

“It is a 100% deal, but we are not walking away. I remain as passionate and enthusiastic as ever about doing this. We are constantly pushing the boundaries and will continue to do so with exciting and innovative beers. I'll have a look at what people are saying but I won't take it too personally.”


Australia: Lion launching full strength version of Iron Jack beer  (

Australia’s Lion is building on its hugely successful launch of Iron Jack, with the launch of a full strength version of the beer, The Shout reported on June 20.

The launch of the mid strength Iron Jack in 2017, was lauded as the most successful beer launch in a decade, after selling over 16 million litres in its first eight months.

Lion’s Contemporary Portfolio Manager, Amy Darvill said: “Iron Jack is a brand inspired by Australia’s legendary outdoorsmen and the traditional values they portray like loyalty, strength and generosity.

“It’s about recognising that the role of the modern Aussie male is evolving, but those old school traits are still as important now as they used to be.”

Iron Jack Full Strength Lager will be 4.2 per cent ABV and features pale malts with a “light dose” of Saaz hops. The beer is preservative free and has 30 per cent fewer carbs than regular full strength beers.

The launch of Iron Jack Full Strength will be supported by a new brand campaign and TVC set to launch later in 2018 and it will be available from July 16 in 330ml bottles, 375ml cans and on tap at selected outlets nationally.


Australia: Leading brewers hit back at calls for ‘radical’ alcohol tax policy changes  (

Australia’s beer barons have hit back at calls for a “radical” policy shift that would hike the tax on draught beer by up to 500 per cent and reduce Australia’s alcohol consumption, the Illawarra Mercury reported on January 4.

The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) wants draught beer to be taxed at the same rate as bottles and cans, rather than the discounted tax rate it now enjoys. FARE says this would raise an extra A$2.9 billion while cutting alcohol consumption by more than nine per cent.

But the brewing lobby has blasted the plan as “lazy and flawed”.

Brewers Association of Australia (BAA) CEO Brett Heffernan said tax was already the “single most expensive ingredient in beer”.

“Firstly, when it comes to cheap alcohol products, beer is not one of them,” he said.

“Secondly, price is not a pressure point for those who misuse alcohol. It’s lazy and flawed policy ... it penalises the vast majority who drink responsibly while doing nothing for those few at risk of harm.”

He claimed Australians already pay heavy tax on beer.

“Any Aussie venturing overseas who has slicked their thirst with a cleansing ale knows we pay a premium for beer in Australia.”

BAA represents brewing giants Carlton & United, Cooper and Lion.

FARE’s plan proposes tax on light beer at pubs be increased five-fold, tax on mid-strength beer be doubled and tax on full-strength beer tax be increased by half.


Australia: Lion to stop brewing Knappstein Reserve Lager, ...  (

... close brewery in South Australia

Lion has decided to stop brewing Knappstein Reserve Lager and will close the Enterprise Brewery in Clare, South Australia, the Australian Brews News reported on August 2.

Lion said in a statement that production of Knappstein will cease on August 11. This reportedly followed a review of the business after Knappstein brewer Mel Fettke announced plans to leave for a winemaking role.

“As a result, the Enterprise Brewery in Clare, South Australia (where Knappstein Reserve Lager is brewed) will also cease brewing beer until a future use for the brewery site and brewery kit is decided,” said Lion.

“This is due to declining volume of the brand over the last few years and the brewery operating significantly below capacity.

“None of our people are impacted by this decision, as they will continue to work throughout our brewing network.”

Lion no longer owns the Enterprise Brewery site, having sold Knappstein and all its other wine brands to Accolade Wines in November last year.


Australia: Australia's antitrust regulator clears AB InBev's takeover of SABMiller  (

Australia's antitrust regulator on May 5 cleared beer giant Anheuser Busch InBev SA's planned $100 billion takeover of rival SABMiller Plc, saying the deal would not adversely affect the domestic market, Economic Times reported.

"The ACCC considers that the proposed acquisition is unlikely to result in higher beer prices for consumers," Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) Chairman Rod Sims said in a statement.

The deal would not hurt competition in Australia because AB Inbev sold its beers in Australia only via distributors, "has only a limited direct company presence in Australia and does not brew beer here," the ACCC said.

The green light from Australia removes another potential antitrust obstacle to the world's No. 1 beer company's deal to buy its nearest rival, one of the biggest corporate takeovers on record. AB InBev has said it expects to complete the purchase by the end of 2016, but still has to secure antitrust clearance in Europe, where both it and its target are headquartered.

AB InBev is the No. 2 beer supplier in Australia, behind Lion Nathan, owned by Japan's Kirin Holdings Co Ltd.

The ACCC said AB InBev has until now had its beers, which include Corona, distributed in Australia by Lion Nathan. It has agreed to distribute the product itself to ease regulatory concerns that the companies may coordinate market activity, the ACCC said.

The European Commission has said it will give its verdict on the deal on May 24. AB InBev has already offered to sell SABMiller's Grolsch and Peroni brands to address its potential concerns.

In April, AB InBev agreed to delay any layoffs by five years and invest 1 billion rand ($67 million) to support South African farmers to secure regulatory approval for the deal in South Africa.


Australia: Lion purchases craft brewer Bay Brewing Co.  (

Australia’s Lion, itself owned by Japan’s Kirin Holdings, has announced it's purchasing the Byron Bay Brewing Co, including its range of beers, brewery and hospitality operation, Australian Hospitality Magazine reported on April 29.

Lion has a growing portfolio of craft beers, including Little Creatures, James Squire, White Rabbit, Kosciusko and Knappstein.

Gordon Treanor, craft marketing director at Lion, said “When we were approached by Byron Bay Brewing Co we saw an opportunity to invest in a great local brewery, hospitality operation and craft beer portfolio, with a view to building the business locally and, possibly, in time, sharing these great beers with more people across the country.”

Barry Schadel, owner of Byron Bay Brewing Co, said he feels Lion shares his vision for the company.

“My number one priority was finding a buyer who would continue to invest in the brewery, beers and venue and take the business from strength to strength. Lion has a strong track record of doing this with other craft beers and I know I am leaving Byron Bay Brewing Co in good hands.”

Lion plans to invest in both the brewery and the venue, which includes a bar and restaurant, including a potential refurbishment following the completion of the purchase.


Australia: Lion decides to discontinue the production of its Tap King draft beer  (

In a land of beer drinkers, Tap King has failed to sell to Australians, Gold Coast Bulletin reported on January 22.

Lion has decided to turn the tap off, blaming poor sales for ending its two-year experiment with its 3.2-litre take-home beer casks and the unique tap system it sold to punters who wanted to spear their own mini-kegs in the comfort of their lounge or in the kitchen.

After launching the product in 2013 by using Lionel Richie in TV ads to croon “Is it me you’re looking for" whenever the fridge door opened, Lion has conceded that no, drinkers weren’t looking for the product.

Lion issued a statement through Facebook and in emails to customers, saying: “The pleasure of draught beer in the comfort of your own castle was enjoyed by many, but unfortunately the time has come to discontinue Tap King and bid thee farewell.

“However, ultimately sales have not met expectations and the Royal Council has had to make the most difficult of decisions and stop supplying stockists."

When approached on January 21 for further comment, Lion said only: “Lion has decided to discontinue its in-home draught beer system, Tap King. Since launch, Tap King has recruited many loyal followers, with over 70,000 fans via social media.

“However, ultimately sales have not met our expectations and we have chosen to focus our resources on our core portfolio and maintaining the most efficient supply chain possible.’’

The decision was a bombshell for Murwillumbah’s Chris Leslight, whose plans for Australia Day were thrown into chaos by the news.

“I’m shocked and utterly disappointed by this decision,’’ he said.

“I think they should have brought out more interesting beers in the range."

Tap King launched with XXXX, Hahn, James Squire, Tooheys and James Boag beers, but from mid-last year had ditched XXXX Gold, Tooheys and Hahn.

“I use my Tap King regularly and was looking forward to stocking it for Australia Day and having a few quite draught beers out of the fridge," Mr Leslight said.

“Now I’ll have to go out and get as many refills as possible before they run out. I don’t see why we Tap King owners should be punished for Lion missing the market."

The Tap King shock follows reports late last year that Australian Bureau of Statistics figures showed the average person was drinking fewer standard drinks of beer than they were in 2008, but wine consumption had grown. The ABS found the average person consumes 331 standard drinks of beer each year compared to 304 glasses of wine.

Gold Coast Publications beer editor Bob Anthony, who attended the launch of the Tap King beer dispensing system in Sydney in 2013, said Lion was convinced at the time that it would revolutionise beer drinking, bringing the draught experience to the home.

“I think the initial success was based largely on the novelty value of the system which always had a limited range of beers to choose from. However when beer drinkers started stacking up the cost of refills as against the cost of cartons of beer, the novelty soon wore off," he said.

In the end, going to the fridge to grab a stubby was more convenient and easy.

“Just like the French Revolution, the people turned against this and saw the demise of the King,’’ Anthony said. “The King is dead, long live the stubby!"


Australia: AB InBev and Lion sign agreement on exclusive distribution of ...  (

... Corona Extra in Australia

Anheuser-Busch InBev and Lion have re-signed a new agreement which will see Lion exclusively distribute Corona Extra in Australia, TheShout reported on June 12.

Lion Australia managing director James Brindley said that he was looking forward to continuing to market and distribute the popular beer as part of Lion’s portfolio in Australia.

"Corona is a favourite beer for many adult Australians and we are excited that this much-loved brand will continue to be part of Lion’s portfolio of great brands."

A spokesperson for Lion said the deal was for "several years" and that this agreement was only for Corona Extra. The deal to distribute Corona's sister brands is still in place and will continue.

Lion initially signed the deal to distribute Corona in 2012, with Brindley telling TheShout at the time, that Lion was not just warming the seat for Coca-Cola Amatil.


Australia: Investigation into beer giants’ draught beer market practices ...  (

... elevated to ‘priority matter’ for Australian Competition and Consumer Commission

An investigation into Australia's two big beer giants, Lion and Carlton & United Breweries (CUB), has been elevated to a "priority matter" for the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on February 16.

A team is believed to have been assigned to explore allegations that Lion and CUB – which control more than 90 per cent of beer taps through brands such as Tooheys and VB – are using their dominance to edge out rival brewers from the A$2.5 billion draught beer market.

It doesn't get much bigger than beer, and even a whiff of an alleged breach of the law has put the regulator on high alert. In the past year it has been in contact with Lion and CUB.

Lion said it "can confirm it has co-operated fully with the ACCC in relation to its inquiries into the Australian draught beer market. However, it will be inappropriate for us to make further comment at this time."

ACCC chairman Rod Sims confirmed that the investigation into the wholesale supply of beer to pubs was continuing and "that it is a priority matter for us". He said he couldn't go into detail, except that "we are in contact with many hotels and event organisers".

Mr Sims is expected to unveil the commission's top priorities for 2015 at a speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia in Sydney on February 20. The ACCC has 100 active investigations but beer is believed to be one of the regulator's top 10 priorities.

Mr Sims has previously said misuse of market power, including the lessening of competition, "strikes at the heart of companies and business systems".

Last year he took Pfizer Australia to court alleging misuse of market power and exclusive dealing in relation to the supply of a particular product to pharmacies.

He also took aim at supermarket giant Coles and the misuse of its market power in relation to the treatment of 220 suppliers. In this case the ACCC alleged unconscionable conduct, which Coles settled in December, agreeing to pay a A$10 million fine, enter an enforceable undertaking with the ACCC and set up a formal review process for up to 220 suppliers with combined sales of A$660 million.

If the ACCC can build a case that such exclusive dealing in the brewing industry results in a substantial lessening of competition, the legal axe will fall on the big brewers.

But it will be a complex and time-consuming investigation given the size of the ACCC's budget and the multifaceted market.

For starters, there are numerous exclusive contracts across retail and hospitality. The most notable examples are coffee shops, which enter contracts to sell particular brands in return for various inducements including rebates and machines, and fast food chains which enter deals to sell exclusive soft drinks.

The ACCC will need to determine the market. Not all pubs sign contracts and some craft brewers don't have their own breweries, so the issue of supply has been a problem for some of the smaller ones.

It will also need to determine the dominant players and whether competition is being harmed. It must then look at whether these contracts are constraining growth in the craft beer market by stifling competition.

The ACCC has already amassed a pile of information, including emails and contracts, after writing to brewers and publicans last year outlining a listed of very pointed questions.

"Does your company have an exclusive distribution arrangement with any customers for the supply of draught beer? If so identify those customers," it asked, as well as questions such as "Does your business face difficulties in negotiating supply of draught beer?"

On February 11, consumer advocacy group Choice issued a statement saying it had completed its own investigation into Lion and CUB and concluded they are "locking out genuine Aussie craft beers from the taps at your favourite local pub".

Choice based its findings on a contract, still in force, for the supply of tap beer, which demanded exclusive access for Foster's Group (now called CUB). Clauses include the beer giant as the exclusive supplier of all light-strength beer, all low-carbohydrate draught beers, all domestic premium and sub-premium draught beers, all imported draught beers, all specialty and craft draught beers and all draught spirits and cider.

A CUB spokesman said it wasn't unusual for publicans to enter into contracts for the provision of beer, spirits and wine, adding that it was a long-standing practice. In relation to beer, he said many of the contracts included discounts on the keg price and investment in the pub such as cool rooms, tap lines and fridges and so on.

"Drinkers want choice, so while 30 per cent of our venues are under contract, we're increasingly finding they are not just exclusive to CUB," he said.

Interestingly, under the US Federal Alcohol Administration Act it is unlawful to have exclusive contracts in a venue contracted to a brewery. The US act also includes a commercial bribery clause which bans any inducements if the direct effect is to "prevent, deter, hinder or restrict other persons from selling or offering for sale" any distilled spirits, wine, or malt beverages "in interstate or foreign commerce by commercial bribery or by offering or giving any bonus, premium or compensation to any … representative of the trade buyer".

Craft beer represents 2 per cent of the Australian beer market, according to research house IBISWorld, but it is a high-stakes game for the big brewers as consumers turn away from mainstream beer and move towards craft beer.

To put it into perspective, the latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics show that beer consumption is at its lowest level in 67 years, falling more than half its peak of the mid-1970s.

In contrast, craft beer might only represent 2 per cent of the overall beer market, but it is growing at more than 10 per cent a year. The number of craft breweries has more than doubled in the past decade to more than 175.

The heat is most certainly on. Last year the ACCC went in hard on CUB, finding it more than A$20,000 for misleading labelling on its Byron Bay Pale Lager, which suggested the beer was brewed by a small craft brewer in Byron Bay when it was brewed hundreds of kilometres away by CUB.

The company also entered a court-enforceable undertaking with the ACCC, with Mr Sims sending a strong message about his thinking in this area: "Many small brewers cater to consumers who prefer to support small, niche businesses.

"When large companies portray themselves as small businesses, it undermines the unique selling point that such small businesses depend upon, and it misleads consumers."

Lion heard the message and decided to put its name on all its Australian manufactured beers to make it clear for consumers it is the ultimate owner of the brand. It started with its James Squire labels and will roll it out across the portfolio over the next year.

But it is not enough to appease the independent craft brewers who want the ACCC to turn up the heat, before it is too late.

Melbourne craft brewer Thunder Road Brewing Company said in a statement it believed the big brewers were targeting craft brewers to even worse effect in the past year.

"In our view, without regulatory intervention, the big two multinational brewers will keep targeting small brewers and kill off craft brewing in this country. Their approach seems to be 'buy the competition or buy the taps'."

With Coca-Cola Amatil, the supermarkets and others moving into the craft beer space, the issues will only get bigger.


Australia: Beer and spirits companies say wine industry not paying fair share of alcohol taxes  (

Australia’s beer and spirits companies say wine companies aren’t paying their fair share of the A$6 billion in alcohol taxes collected each year by the federal government, The Australian Financial Review reported on February 5.

The wine industry is pleading special circumstances, arguing its 2500 companies shouldn’t be taxed more because it has one production cycle a year, following grape harvest in February and March.

Intense lobbying is happening in Canberra for favourable treatment in the May budget, creating angst between rival parts of the alcohol industry.

The latest increase in excise on beer and spirits, on February 2, has further riled beer and spirits makers. Spirits companies argue that for a bottle of spirits selling for A$75, they pay A$30 in federal tax through excise and GST, which is a big impost and distorts the choices available to shoppers.

Beer consumption in Australia has dropped by more than 8 per cent in the past six years. Tim Cooper, managing director of Cooper’s Brewery, is the new chairman of the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand, which includes Carlton & United Breweries, maker of Victoria Bitter, and Lion, maker of Tooheys and XXXX, and he said twice-yearly excise rises are a big factor in the drop in demand.

Winemakers’ Federation of Australia chief executive Paul Evans said the current tax regime shouldn’t be touched, other than a revamp of the wine equalisation tax rebate scheme.

The WET rebate scheme, which started in 2004, was designed to pay a maximum of A$500,000 a year to smaller producers to promote regional employment, needs an overhaul. The savings should be used to promote Australian wine overseas to take advantage of the drop in the dollar, he said. Mr Evans said the WET rebate should no longer apply to unbranded and bulk wine, and be stripped away from New Zealand wine companies that are currently able to access the scheme and have claimed up to A$25 million a year from it.

He said the economics of the wine industry is completely different to beer and spirits. “There are significant differences in the structure of those industries. Beer and spirits is highly consolidated and wine has only one production cycle a year, and is regionally based,” he said. “This mantra that all alcohol is the same is a nonsense.”

Small spirits producers are pushing for some help along similar lines to smaller craft brewers. The Australian Distillers Association, formed last year by about 15 small craft spirits makers, wants a 60 per cent rebate on the first A$100,000 of excise paid to help them grow.

The body that represents big players such as Diageo, Bacardi Lion, Beam and Brown-Forman, said spirits are treated the most harshly because the twice-yearly excise increase always has a bigger impact on the higher-taxed spirits.

Gordon Broderick, the executive director of the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia, which oversees the interests of the bigger players, said the alcohol tax regime is a dog’s breakfast.


Australia: Restrictive supply contracts prevent small brewers from selling beer to pubs and hotels  (

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission is investigating brewing giants CUB and Lion over their use of "tap contracts" to prevent hotel owners from selling rival beers, after a number of small operators complained that they could not sell their beer to pubs, The Australian reported on January 22.

The Commission has written to several small brewers asking for information "to better understand aspects of the supply conditions within the wholesale draught beer market" so it can assess whether "certain conduct" might be prohibited under the Competition and Consumer Act.

It is understood that the letter goes on to question the brewers on whether they have been unable to sell to venues because the publicans had signed restrictive supply contracts with the major brewers preventing them from stocking competitors' beers.

Queensland brewer Wade Curtis, who posted his letter from the ACCC on Facebook and Twitter this week, said he had complained to the regulator three years ago about being unable to sell his Four Hearts beer to pubs because all of their taps were under contract.

"I had just started my own craft brewing business and had a launch at a venue in Brisbane -- we got through two or three kegs, they were really excited and the manager was saying 'we'll have to have it on tap', but then they suddenly went cold on the idea because they said they had a 50-50 tap contract with Lion and CUB," Mr Curtis said.

In return for rebates on beer prices, the tap contracts generally stipulate a minimum proportion of sales that must be sourced from the relevant supplier -- often 60-80 per cent of volume, but sometimes up to 100 per cent.

By operating on a percentage basis, pubs with 100 per cent contracts cannot even stock competitors' beers if they install additional taps -- something several brewers contacted by The Australian said they had offered to pay for, only for publicans to refuse as it would breach their tap contracts.

One brewer in Melbourne said its craft cider was selling well at a Melbourne venue until CUB "bought" the venue's taps for its Bulmers cider brand. "They told us what they were paying and we just couldn't see how it was economic," the brewer said.

Tim Cooper, managing director at privately held South Australian brewer Coopers, said his company generally only took out contracts for event venues and festivals, and in pubs frequently had to fight for space with CUB and Lion.

"Because we're only 4.5 per cent of national beer volumes, we've historically been happy to have those taps that publicans keep aside for guest beers," Dr Cooper said. "But over the last year we've been more worried because we hear of cases where one or the other of the majors is trying to get contracts over 100 per cent of the taps.

"We understand we can't expect 20 per cent of the taps, but when publicans are being offered 100 per cent contracts then consumers will miss out."

But Dr Cooper said even pubs that had contracts allowing some "guest" beers to be sold could be restrictive for smaller operators.

"One of the large publicans in Sydney said to me a few years ago: 'Your Pale Ale is a problem - we've got it on only three taps but it's still infringing my 90 per cent volume contract with Lion.' And I said, 'That's presumably because your customers like drinking Pale Ale', and he looked at me as if that was utterly irrelevant from his point of view."

A CUB spokesman said the "vast majority" of pubs bought beer from several sources, and denied the company sought to lock up pub distribution to prevent smaller brewers from entering the market.

"As far as we are aware, all brewers, including CUB, offer some form of incentive to stock their products, such as volume rebates, maintenance of taps and equipment and so on," the spokesman said.

A spokesman for Australia's largest pubs group, ALH, said the firm did not have tap contracts at any of its 325 hotels.

An ACCC spokeswoman confirmed the regulator was making market inquiries on wholesale beer supply but declined to comment on the probe other than to say it did not involve a merger.


Australia: Lion launches A$60 million Little Creatures brewery  (

Lion officially launched its new A$60 million Little Creatures brewery and hospitality venue in Geelong on December 9 ahead of its official opening on December 10.
Little Creatures announced plans to develop the 11-hectare site, which was once a 1920s art-deco textile mill, in early 2012 - just months before the publicly-listed company was acquired by Lion, according to the Shout.
The Geelong brewery will produce 1.25 million cartons of packaged beer in its first year of operation and has already started servicing its primary markets along the east coast of Australia.
This is the third Little Creatures brewery and will more than double total brewing capacity, alongside the existing breweries in Fremantle, and the Healesville site also in regional Victoria, which creates the boutique White Rabbit beer and Pipsqueak cider products also within the Little Creatures portfolio.
“Little Creatures is one of Australia’s most popular craft beers, and our investment in this major new brewery at Geelong will allow us to meet the growing demand for the Little Creatures portfolio of beers now, and into the future,” said Lion CEO, Stuart Irvine.
“Importantly, we’ll be able to produce beer closest to where our future growth will come from – the eastern states. Beer is always best consumed fresh, and this allows us to provide fresher product to the eastern market."
The brewery was commissioned in July this year and contains modern German brewing technology and environmental initiatives such as waste heat collection and a carbon dioxide recycling system.
The brewery was opened by the Premier of Victoria, Dr Denis Napthine, who acknowledged the importance of the new development in the area following recent redundancies and the decision to close the Ford manufacturing plant in Geelong in 2016.
“The development of the new brewery was a further boon to Victoria’s biggest regional city and a great example of innovation. I congratulate Lion on the development of the brewery site and their ongoing commitment to promoting and building jobs in this great region.”


Lion Q1 Trading Update  (Company news)

Lion today announced its trading update for the quarter ended 31 December 2012 in conjunction with Kirin Holdings’ first quarter announcement. The first quarter trading update reflects the three months to 31 December 2012 for all Lion business units.

Lion continues to pursue its strategy of investing in its people, brands and production assets to drive sustainable results in the long term.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said: “While consumer sentiment in our key geographies remains relatively subdued, we have seen good progress in our Australian Beer, Spirits & Wine business, as the beer market decline has started to slow and international brand owners have chosen to partner with Lion.

“Our Dairy & Drinks business operates in a highly competitive environment with discounting on white milk, juice and everyday cheese impacting margins. Lion has invested significantly in a range of efficiency initiatives and expects to realise the benefits of past site rationalisation during FY13, however we are still a considerable distance from making an acceptable return, and this cannot be delivered by a focus on costs alone.

“Since the conclusion of the quarter it has also been confirmed that the Coles private label milk contracts in Victoria, NSW and South East Queensland will move from Lion to Murray Goulburn and Norco in July 2014. Previous experience demonstrates that changes in these contracts can cause significant disruption for farmers, and we are still in the process of assessing the impact on our business and the most appropriate way forward”.
(Lion Pty Limited)


Australia: Lion’s XXXX Gold wins the title of Australia’s most popular beer  (

Australia's most popular beer for decades, VB, has lost its crown, with interloper XXXX Gold from Queensland now officially the nation's biggest-selling brew, The Sydney Morning Herald reported on May, 30.

The latest figures from Nielsen show that XXXX's mid-strength beer now commands 12.4 per cent of all beer consumed in Australia, just beating VB, with 12.3 per cent.

Sales of VB, owned by global brewer SABMiller, have been waning for years, dragged lower by increased competition from a slew of international beers such as Corona and Heineken, and a switch by drinkers to craft beers, wine and other alcoholic drinks.

VB's popularity has also not been helped by a recent reduction in its alcohol content, which turned off some traditional drinkers. A shift in its marketing campaigns also failed to win back drinkers.

According to Nielsen VB, the beer's market share was 13.7 per cent of the market in April last year against 11.7 per cent for Queensland rival XXXX Gold.

But in March this year the beers were neck and neck, both with a stake of 12.4 per cent, with just released April 2012 figures showing the Queensland beer had finally hit the lead.

XXXX Gold is owned by Lion, which is in turn part of Japanese conglomerate Kirin. Foster's formerly owned VB before it was itself swallowed by London-based SABMiller,

In third place in terms of market share is Carlton Draught with 9.3 per cent, followed by Tooheys New 7.1 per cent, Tooheys Extra Dry with 4.4 per cent and Carlton Mid 3.8 per cent.

Last week SABMiller revealed Foster's domestic beer brands recorded a sales decline of 4 per cent in volume on an annualised basis which SABMiller blamed on continued subdued consumer sentiment.


Australia & Japan: Foster’s loses rights to distribute Japanese beer Asahi  (

Foster's has lost the rights to Japanese beer brand Asahi following the company's acquisition by SABMiller last year, The Australian reported on February, 8.

Asahi said that from April 2 it would transfer the distribution, sales and marketing tasks for its Asahi Super Dry brand in Australia to Independent Distillers, the contract brewer it purchased from private equiteers Pacific Equity Partners and Unitas Capital last August.

The move follows news in December that Foster's had lost the rights to distribute Stella Artois, the fourth-largest premium imported beer in the Australian market, to arch rival Lion.


New Zealand: Earthquake smashes much of beer stock in Lion Nathan’s warehouse  (

New Zealand's major 7.0 earthquake disrupted supplies from one of the country's biggest breweries, AFP cited an official on September, 7.
Operations may not return to normal for weeks, the official warned.
The Lion Nathan brewery, which has stood in central Christchurch since the 1850s, was little damaged in Saturday's jolt but a nearby warehouse was badly shaken, with much of its beer, wine and spirit stock smashed.
"Our offsite... warehouse has been significantly affected and remains closed. We are currently looking for alternative warehousing but we have lost considerable inventory," Lion Nathan spokeswoman Judy Walter said.
Walter said the company was currently filling urgent orders only out of its Auckland stores and though supplies to Christchurch would resume within 24 hours, it could be "a number of weeks" before drinks were again flowing freely.
Lion Nathan was using all available resources to resolve the damage and address supply delays, she added.
The brewery itself, which produces six beers including international brands Becks, Guinness and Kilkenny and supplies the entire South island, had been "largely assessed by a structural engineer and cleared for use," Walter said.
"The clean-up process is now underway there, but production is unlikely to recommence before the end of next week as all machinery needs to be fully inspected and tested," she said.

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