Lion, the largest brewer in Australia and a subsidiary of Kirin from Japan, announced on Friday the purchase of a minority stake in the premium spirits distributor Vanguard Luxury Brands. It is the third acquisition of the company in three consecutive weeks and a continuation of a series of similar transactions in the last year.
In July 2018, Lion purchased 100 percent of craft brewer Fourpure Brewing, based in UK’s capital London (inside.beer, 9.7.2018). One month later, Lion bought Harrington's Brewery in Christchurch, New Zealand, one of the oldest craft breweries in the country (inside.beer, 1.8.2019). On March 22, 2019 Lion announced to take a 50 percent stake in Australian craft distiller Four Pillars Gin, “Lions first and most important craft spirit brand,” as Stuart Gregor, co-founder of Four Pillars, said after the purchase. Only one week later Lion bought 100 percent of UK-based craft beer legend Magic Rock (inside.beer, 1.4.2019) which is now followed by the minority stake acquisition of Vanguard.
Today’s announcement follows Lion’s recent partnership with Four Pillars Gin.
Vanguard has been Four Pillars’ distributor since the brand’s launch in 2013 and has recently signed a new long-term distribution agreement with the Healesville-based distiller, so the same craft spirits experts will continue to sell Four Pillars to bars, retailers, restaurants and pubs across Australia.
Lion Managing Director James Brindley said the simultaneous deals between Lion and Four Pillars and Vanguard are a fortunate outcome for Lion as it enters the growing crafted, premium spirits category.
"James France is widely recognised and respected within the premium spirits industry here and around the world. James and his team at Vanguard have been working closely with influential bartenders, hospitality operators and retailers for over a decade. Vanguard is a fabulous business and we at Lion will work hard to ensure we support Vanguard in continued service and engagement with our customers," Brindley said.
Vanguard Founder and Managing Director James France said the deal with Lion is a logical next step. "This investment means we will go even further in providing the best brands for the best bars and retailers, and for that reason we are truly at the forefront of Australia’s flourishing craft and premium spirits industry," France said.
"I look forward to continuing to lead the Vanguard business as Managing Director. The culture and focus on premium brands that Vanguard is known for will be maintained, and we are enormously proud of this."