Lion buys UK craft brewery to spearhead European expansion
Lion has bought a piece of the burgeoning European craft beer market, acquiring 100% of Fourpure Brewing Co.
Fourpure was founded in 2013 by brothers Daniel and Thomas Lowe and is part of the famed ‘Bermondsey Beer Mile’ craft brewing hub in South East London.
The sale, for an undisclosed amount, comes just weeks after Heineken paid £40m to take a minority stake in Fourpure’s rival Beavertown.
Global Markets Managing Director Matt Tapper (above) 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.”
Fourpure co-founder and CEO Daniel Lowe said: "Not only are the people at Lion terribly nice and incredibly positive, they share our vision and believe in us to carry it out. 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."
Tapper told The Telegraph that the acquisition of Fourpure would not lead to mainstream brands such as XXXX returning to the UK.
“We are very proud of our brewing history,” said Tapper. “[But] our focus beyond Australia and New Zealand is craft beer.”
Craft beer represents around 5% of the UK beer market. When compared with the US and Australia – where market share is 15% and 10% respectively – this represents an attractive growth opportunity, he said.
Lowe revealed that the strategy moving forward would be to grow Fourpure alongside Lion’s craft beers (Little Creature’s, Emerson’s, Panhead) in Europe.
"Our current focus is building growth in the UK market but we have established ourselves as a leading craft brand in Singapore where Lion also has established a presence under their Lion gateway city strategy," he added. "We have also made some inroads into Europe. Over time we see opportunities to work together for further export growth but at this stage the focus is on the UK market."