ASX-listed craft accelerator Founders First has launched a new industry-facing identity, Mighty Craft, designed to position the company in the independent craft beverage industry.
Founders First CEO Mark Haysman told Brews News the company would still be listed on the on the ASX under the FFL code, with Founders First Ltd as its company name, but the business would be known as Mighty Craft within the industry and to trade.
“This notion of Mighty Craft is about a unified group where we collaborate to create a stronger overall craft community and really unleash the growth of the sector,” Haysman told the Beer is a Conversation podcast.
“The essence of what we do hasn’t changed, just how we describe ourselves has, so that we can try to capture the essence of what Mighty Craft is all about.”
Haysman said the change came about in part because of confusion about the role of the craft accelerator.
“One of the reasons we wanted to list was to have liquidity in perpetuity, so there’s no event that has to happen for people to do well out of investing into Founders First, or backing our brands,” he explained.
“The liquidity is there ongoing, and that enables us to build strong, sustainable businesses over time and build them the right way, which is what we want to do.
“We’re not in this for a sugar rush, we really want to make sure that we build a great business within Founders First with great partners within Mighty Craft that enable us to build a strong, thriving craft community and to play a role within that.
“For those brands we’ve invested in, and businesses we’ve invested in, but ideally we help create a stronger craft community overall,” he said.
Founders First has invested in breweries including Foghorn, Ballistic, Sauce and Slipstream and distilleries such as Green Ant Gin and the rebrand brings together the various elements of the business under one brand.
“Nothing really changes there, but you will see us go to market with Mighty Craft as a bit of a banner instead of, say, Indie Craft Collective or our export business being Momentum Food,” Haysman said.
“Mighty Craft will house all of those individual brands. But we’ll be there for those, we’re there to help build those brands and help those that we’ve invested in to build their brand.”
This portfolio of brands is supported by 13 venues around the country, a combination of brewpubs, venues in iconic locations, and distillery cellar doors.
Mighty Craft partner and Foghorn co-founder Shawn Sherlock supported the move.
“It’s pretty great to be part of Mighty Craft,” he sadid. “With their financial and hands-on support Foghorn Brewery has now expanded into the Hunter Valley with a second micro-brewery and taproom. With a shared love of great beer, Mighty Craft have helped get my brand into the hands of more people.”
Haysman told the Beer is a Conversation podcast that Founders First was in a strong position, despite the current COVID situation.
“We had a really strong Q4 despite the fact that venues were closed, which was on the back of wholesale being strong,” he said.
“The brands that we own a majority stake in grew. Their wholesale growth over that last quarter was 260 per cent, which is phenomenal. So we’re outperforming the category significantly.
“We finished the quarter, or the end of the year actually, with net assets sitting around $30 million, a strong cash position of over $11 million and no debt.
“So on the back of the ranging that…the team got that we announced in July, which should see us double our distribution footprint through the national retailers, we’re set for a really strong first quarter and first half.”
Radio Brews News discusses Founders First’s progress over the past 18 months since first spoke with him in this week’s Beer is a Conversation podcast.