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Lion takes over Magic Rock

Leading Australian and New Zealand brewer, Lion, has acquired 100% of leading UK craft brewer, Magic Rock Brewing Company.

Magic Rock is a leading craft brewer based in Huddersfield, currently employing 45 people. With its distinctive range of high quality beers currently enjoyed across the UK, Magic Rock’s focus is to continue to meet rising demand in the domestic market, building growth in pubs and supermarkets. Magic Rock also exports to more than 25 countries worldwide and – over time – it sees opportunities to further grow outside of the UK with the support of Lion. Co-founder and managing director Richard Burhouse will remain actively involved within the business.

Richard Burhouse, said: “With the support of the beer community, in eight years Magic Rock has become one of the UK’s leading craft brewers, distributing across the UK, as well as internationally. The best way for us to build on this legacy over the long term is to introduce Magic Rock beers to a much wider audience. 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 Global Markets managing director, Matt Tapper, said: “Magic Rock has been one the pioneers in the UK craft beer scene and has built a loyal following due to its relentless pursuit of authenticity and quality. We’re excited to have the opportunity to help Richard and the team build on their success. 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.”  

Founded by Richard Burhouse and head brewer Stuart Ross in 2011, within its first year of operations, Magic Rock was voted second best new brewery in the world (2012) in independent rating site RateBeer.com’s Top New Breweries awards. It has since been voted five times as a top 100 world brewer on RateBeer.com.

Richard Burhouse added “We are now close to maxing out the capacity of our current brewery. It’s clear that the next expansion will need some deep pockets to provide the equipment we need to take us to the next level. We’ve looked at different funding options including our traditional approach, as well as private equity and crowd funding but none appealed or gave us the strategic help and brewing expertise we think is necessary for the next step.

“While there’s never been a plan to sell the business, we’ve had a number of approaches over the past few years, but none of them felt like a good fit until we started talking with Lion. Lion first approached us back in August 2018 and we were immediately impressed with their ambition, pedigree and approach to beer.

“They are straight talkers, who put quality and people at the forefront of their approach. They also have a great track record of bringing brewers on board and growing them while maintaining their integrity. We feel both a strong resonance with our attitudes, and a level of comfort with them as people.”

The modern UK craft market is one of the world’s largest and fastest growing globally in volume terms. It currently represents around a 6% share of UK beer volume and 5% share of global craft beer volume. Lion is already an active player in the UK and Europe, selling a range of Australian and New Zealand craft beers, such as Little Creatures and Panhead, plus New Zealand fine wines.

Concluded Matt Tapper: “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.”

Lion has a growing portfolio in the UK; acting as the custodian for London craft brewery Fourpure Brewing Co since July 2018. For some time now, Lion has played a pivotal role in the craft beer market in Australasia. Chuck Hahn started James Squire with Lion’s support and Lion was a shareholder in Little Creatures very early in its journey to become one of Australia’s most famous craft brands. Lion’s craft brewers have also created some of Australia and New Zealand’s most loved craft beer brands, such as Furphy, James Squire and Kosciuszko.