South London craft brewer Fourpure has been bought by Australian food and drink producer Lion, a subsidiary of the Japanese brewing giant Kirin.
The deal is the latest in a string of UK craft brewing acquisitions by multinationals which has seen Carlsberg buy London Fields, AB-Inbev acquire Camden Town and Heineken take stakes in Beavertown and Brixton.
Fourpure was founded by brothers Dan and Tom Lowe in 2013. It plans to remain at its base in Bermondsey with Dan as chief executive. Tom will also stay with the business.
Dan Lowe said the acquisition came without the usual “business as usual” messages that frequently accompany such takeovers.
“We truly hope that you will see some change, otherwise why would we bother?” he said on the company’s website.
He added: “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.
“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.
“By taking this next step it means that our team has peers that they can learn from; it means that we have a structure that will allow for growth and progression.
“It also, importantly, means that we’ll have the money to invest in capacity, safety, innovation, people, our quality programme, our sensory programme, hospitality, sustainability and many other things that we believe in and care about.
“This really was an easy decision in the end. Not only are the people at Lion terribly nice and incredibly positive, they share our vision and believe in us to carry it out.”
Lion’s existing craft beer brands include Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Panhead.
“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,” said Lowe.
“We have a great team of people and Lion are looking to work with them and learn from them.
“At the same time, the UK is culturally similar to Lion’s home markets and they bring some expertise that will help us, particularly in the Little Creatures hospitality experience. There are great opportunities for both parties to benefit.”