Lion acquires London craft brewer, Fourpure Brewing Co

By Rachel Arthur

- Last updated on GMT

Lion acquires London craft brewer, Fourpure Brewing Co

Related tags Beer Craft beer Uk Australia M&A

Australian-headquartered Lion has acquired London craft brewer Fourpure Brewing Co. And while Fourpure says the beer and culture will remain the same, it wants to embrace the opportunities the acquisition brings: ‘We truly hope you will see some change, otherwise why would we bother?”

Fourpure was founded in 2013 by brothers Dan and Tom Lowe: as a brewery where ‘beer is our passion and our travels are what inspire us to brew’. Its flagship beers are inspired by cities around the world: such as its session IPA inspired by New York; its American Pale inspired by California; and its Pils Lager inspired by Munich.

The name Fourpure comes from the four core ingredients used in beer – grain, yeast, hops and water.

Lion – which is headquartered in Sydney and sits within Japanese Kirin’s global portfolio - acquired Australian brewery Little Creatures in 2013. Fourpure says Little Creature’s subsequent success shows that Lion has a successful track record in craft.

‘There’s a lot of things people will tell you about running a brewery’

Dan Lowe, co-founder and CEO of Fourpure, said: “To achieve the standards of quality and consistency that we set for ourselves, to learn and innovate and grow, we have had to continuously invest.

“One thing people will tell you about running a brewery is that it’s expensive and challenging, that it will take up a lot of your time, and that it requires a lot of people power. (Come to think of it there’s a lot of things people will tell you about running a brewery).

“We’ve now reached a point where if we want to reach more people and get them drinking good beer, then we need more resources, equipment, and amazing people.

“It has been a lengthy process to get us to this point, we’ve spoken to a broad range of investors and been transparent about our ambition to our team and the industry. Private equity, bank debt, and crowdfunding are all things we worked really hard on exploring, always knowing Tom and I could not take this journey alone. We wanted the transition to be unambiguous and we both worked to be authentic throughout.” 

Lowe says the investment from Lion will allow Fourpure to create a structure where it can grow and progress: and have the money to invest in capacity, safety, innovation, people, quality programmes, sensory programmes, hospitality and sustainability.

It expects to add 30 people to the Bermondsey team over the next two years.

Foupure says the investment from Lion will allow it to grow with its current focus on the UK market: but will also open opportunities in Singapore – where Lion has a presence with its gateway city strategy – and in Europe.

“You’re also probably expecting [to hear] ‘business as usual’, ‘nothing will change’, ‘more of the same’,” ​said Lowe. “While the beer and the culture and the people will be the same, we truly hope that you will see some change, otherwise why would we bother?

Primary UK focus for Lion

Lion is an Australian headquartered business that sits within Kirin’s global portfolio. It has a portfolio covering beer, cider and wine: such as Little Creatures, White Rabbit, Panhead and Emerson’s.

In the case of Little Creatures, Lion has taken the Freemantle (Western Australia) brand across the country, building a second brewery on the east coast in Geelong, Victoria. Little Creatures is now one of the highest selling craft beers (top 3) in Australia, and is now in 30 cities globally including the UK.

However, Lion has a relatively small presence in the UK - which means that Fourpure will be its primary focus, said Lowe.   

“Not only are the people at Lion terribly nice and incredibly positive, they share our vision and believe in us to carry it out,” ​he said. “ Not to mention a fantastic track record with the likes of Little Creatures.

“Lion are four people in the UK – they do not have a string of pubs to roll our beer out into, we will still have to win over every new line through the quality of our product. They, like us, choose to do something because it is hard, not because it is easy.  

“They see Fourpure and our beer as a primary focus here in the UK and as their sole production brewing facility we will benefit from all the time, expertise and investment required to succeed, and that means that everything around the brewery will be a little bit easier and a little bit better.”

Widening distribution

Lion sells a range of Australian and New Zealand craft beers and fine wines from the US and New Zealand in Europe.

It says that, in time, there will be an opportunity to look at how both businesses’ sales and distribution channels can be used to reach more drinkers, not only in the UK but also in Europe and global markets where both businesses are already growing.  

Lion Global Markets Managing Director Matt Tapper said: “Lion has a long and proud history in craft beer in Australia and New Zealand and we’re thrilled to have the opportunity to back Dan, Tom and the team to take Fourpure into its next chapter.

“The guys have done a superb job in getting the business to where it is now and we love how innovative they’ve been in both beer styles and the way they have positioned the brand.

“We’re making real progress in making our craft beers like Little Creatures available in the UK and Europe and we see some great opportunities to work together to get these and Fourpure’s brews in the hands of more beer lovers.”

Dan Lowe and Tom Lowe will stay with the brewery with no immediate changes to operations.

The value of the transaction has not been disclosed.

Related topics Manufacturers Beer & cider Craft Beer

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