Lion – which also acquired London craft brewer Fourpure Brewing Co last year – identifies the UK craft market as one of the world’s largest and fastest growing. It was attracted to Magic Rock as ‘one of the pioneers in the UK craft beer scene with a loyal following due to its relentless pursuit of authenticity and quality’.
Based in Yorkshire, Magic Rock sells its beer in pubs and supermarkets in the UK as well as exporting to 25 countries. It says that, with the support of Lion, there is an opportunity to grow further outside of the UK.
Magic Rock: 'The best way to build on our legacy is to introduce our beer to a wider audience'
Magic Rock was founded by Richard Burhouse and head brewer Stuart Ross in 2011. In 2012 it was voted the second best new brewery in the world by RateBeer.com and has since been voted five times as a top 100 world brewer on the site.
It employs 45 people out of its Hudderfield base, and plans to expand its team in line with its growth strategy.
The brewery produces around 15,500hl pa (2.7 million pints) and opened a new facility in 2015 with a 4,000 sq ft Tap Room and automated canning facility. Its core range includes Dancing Bier, Hat-Trick and Common Grounds.
Co-founder and managing director Richard Burhouse will remain actively involved in the company after the acquisition.
“The best way for us to build on our legacy over the long term is to introduce Magic Rock beers to a much wider audience,” he said.
“We’re excited to be joining one of the world’s best brewing experts under the shared promise to keep making great beer, on a bigger scale, through their knowledge, expertise and investment.”
Lion's international acquisition spree
The UK craft market represents a 6% share of UK beer volume and 5% share of global craft beer volumes. Lion is already an active player across the UK and Europe: selling a range of Australian and New Zealand craft beers, including Little Creatures and Panhead, alongside New Zealand fine wines.
Matt Tapper, managing director, Lion Global Markets, said: “Lion has a long and proud history in craft beer in Australia and New Zealand and we see some great opportunities to help put Magic Rock into the hands of more beer lovers.
“Lion is continuing to take a patient, long-term approach to capital investment in international markets to meet the demand for diverse craft beer experiences. The UK continues to be one of the most exciting places in the world to experience craft - and given its cultural similarities to Australia and New Zealand, now is a great time to partner with Magic Rock to invest in building their premium brands and to expand Lion’s presence in that market.”
As part of Lion Group (a subsidiary of Kirin Holdings), Lion is behind beer brands such as XXXX, James Boag and Tooheys. Its portfolio also includes craft brands such as James Squire and Malt Shovel, Little Creatures, Kosciuszko and Furphy.
Lion’s Global Markets (LGM) business was launched in 2015 to take its Australian and New Zealand craft beers and ciders into new international markets, as well as accelerating growth of its North American wine business. Lion says the business is able to 'operate in an entrepreneurial way with a lean, fast, and flexible operating model'.
"With significant growth in craft beer forecast for the coming years, Lion has identified the UK as an opportunity to leverage its craft experience and brands from Australia and New Zealand to drive long term growth outside of its home markets," says the company.
Lion has made several other acquisitions over recent weeks: including its entry into the craft spirits sector with a 50% stake in Australia’s Four Pillars Gin; the acquisition of New Zealand drinks brand Teza Iced Teas by Lion NZ; and the acquisition of American wineries Markham Vineyards and Textbook via its US-based wine business Distinguished Vineyards & Wine Partners.