Today we’re announcing that we have agreed to sell 100% of Feral Brewing to Amatil, one of the country’s leading alcohol companies.
Read more: Brendan Varis interview here
Since we first flung open our doors back in October 2002, it’s been pretty much the best journey a brewer with a vision could have hoped for.
I’ve lost count of the number of different beers we brewed, how many of them we introduced to Australia for the first time, how many beer awards we have received, the great people who have joined our team and how many consumer or industry polls we have either topped or been recognized as standouts amongst our peers.
The time has come for us to make a tough decision in the best interest of our future, our loyal craft beer consumers and the amazing team that we have within Feral brewing.
Making innovative premium quality beers that are well executed and have high drinkability is what the team here loves to do and what consumers admire most about us. But a growing business is a hungry one. We have a lot of future plans for the business which, if Feral needed to rely on my personal balance sheet to fund, would take years to execute.
After a lot of in depth conversation, the management team within Amatil’s alcohol business have me totally comfortable that the follwoing three key outcomes would be embraced and delivered by their team as well as few other things further down on our wish list for good measure.
- The great people that had joined our team would be able to continue what they love to do and have their futures preserved.
- Our mission of making beer that we love to drink and that we have personal respect for remains the primary goal of the brewery.
- If I continue to be involved with the brewery it is because I want not because I have or am obligated to for any reason
This is not a decision that I have taken lightly and not one that I expect to regret one little bit. I have no doubt whatsoever that both our loyal craft beer consumers and the amazing team that we have within Feral brewing will look back in a few years’ time and realize this was the best thing for all.
The beer business at Amatil is still relatively young. Due to that, their focus is very much about building brands, which is exactly what Feral needs currently. After lots of conversations I became comfortable that they understood exactly what they would be buying when it came to the Feral business.
With the bigger team behind us we will be able to expand our innovation program and have access to a distribution network that will put our beers in front of thousands more craft beer consumers.
This has been an amazing 15-year journey for us but I feel I have taken the business as far as I can on my own. Having the support of Amatil will allows us to fulfil some of our future goals and ambitions of Feral far sooner than we could have otherwise contemplated.
I’m delighted to have the full support of the Amatil Group, here are a few words from their Group Managing Director, Alison Watkins.
“The Alcohol and Coffee business is an important part of Amatil’s future growth plans and this new relationship with Feral Brewing is a really exciting step for us in the fast-growing craft beer segment.”
And also from Shane Richardson, the head honcho of their Alcohol & Coffee business. “We saw a great opportunity to add this outstanding craft beer range into our portfolio, along with the team led by Brendan and Gabrielle who have built Feral Brewing Co. to be recognised as one the most respected craft breweries in Australia.
“They have done an amazing job with Feral, in our opinion it’s the flag bearer for craft brewing and we are really looking forward to working with Brendan, the team and the brands to see what we can do together in the future.”
So, that’s it. We’ve joined their team and I have absolute confidence going forward that everything that everyone liked about Feral brewing in the past will not only be maintained but built on and improved in the future and that I will be able to turn up and make a contribution to that and do that because I chose to and love doing so.
Some Questions you might want answered….
Why did you sell?
We had a lot of future plans for the business which, if Feral needed to rely on my personal balance sheet to fund, would have taken years to execute. The initial conversations were around taking on an equity partner to clean up some debt within the business to allow us to commence on a few new initiatives. As discussions progressed it became clear that full a sale would deliver the best outcome for all.
The beer business at Amatil is still relatively young. Due to that, their focus is very much about building brands, which is exactly what Feral needs currently. After lots of conversations I became comfortable that Amatil understood exactly what they would be buying when it came to the Feral business. They realize that our values of innovation, beer quality and community are fundamental to who we are and our future success, and they’re as invested in that as we are.
What’s in it Amatil?
We saw a great opportunity to add this world-class high end Australian craft beer range into our portfolio, along with the people behind them. It’s a space we don’t currently play in but is in strong growth, which plays perfectly into our long-term beer strategy to build our business to scale through credible beers that really resonate with today’s consumers.
What will happen to all Feral staff?
They’ll keep doing exactly what they do now but their paycheck will be picked up by someone else.
What does this mean for Feral, will you continue to be part of the IBA?
Having the support and strength of Amatil behind us means we’ll be able to continue doing more of what we’re good at – brewing great beers – and less of the stuff we’re not. Feral will continue to be an independent craft brewery as defined by the IBA and that we look forward to continuing our association as active members and supporters as well as promoting the craft beer industry more broadly
Will the beer be the same?
Yes, there will be no change or our existing beers or the brewers behind them and we look forward to being more prolific than ever before when it comes to new releases
Will you still be involved?
Yes and by choice not because I have been compelled to because a future earnout is what is keeping me coming to work
What does that mean for Feral customers?
Nothing, it’s business as usual, deliveries as usual and invoicing as usual, all still from Feral. Wherever a customer has an existing relationship with Feral, that relationship will remain.
What does that mean for Amatil customers?
It just means access to an even better craft beer portfolio in the future and the support of an upweighted specialist craft beer team.
Will you keep the Feral sales team?
Yes, there’s no change there.
Will there be any changes to the Feral beers or brewery?
No, it’s business as usual.
Will you keep your cold chain delivery?
Yes, cold chain delivery will continue as usual.
Will Feral beers be available in more states?
Feral beers are already available in all states (some with limited distribution), that won’t change. We’ll be looking to upweight distribution in 2018.
Any changes to Feral’s marketing?
As far as our message goes no, we are clear on what that is and it hasn’t changed. Support from Amatil will help us share our story with more people more effectively
What about moving forward?
Ultimately, we’ll look to gain a better understanding of each other’s businesses and customers, work together on the best way to operate going forward, whether that’s introducing a Feral specialist in every state, extending availability in states like QLD, etc, all that’s for the future.
Read more: Brendan Varis interview here