Coopers Brewery has considered buying a craft brewery and while it has not seen value in buying one to date, it would never rule the option out according to Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper.
“It’s an interesting concept and something we perhaps should think about,” he told the Beer is a Conversation podcast, but said there were reasons the brewery hadn’t to date.
“We often reflect that we could pay quite a bit of money for two or three million litres of beer per annum from a craft brewer, but we can launch a product like XPA or Session Ale and we get two or three million litres of beer just with that added variant.
“So it’s an easier way for us, providing our sales and marketing colleagues can guide us as to what’s likely to be successful and that’s the trick of it,” Cooper said.
Coopers is no stranger to dabbling in the distribution of other brands, which had raised the question of whether it should pursue an acquisition. In 2015, the brewery acquired the rights to distribute Brooklyn Brewery beers in Australia before Lion took over in 2018.
“On the basis of the success we were having with the Brooklyn portfolio, Mark [Goulmy, Coopers’ sales and marketing general manager] was thinking we could extend that to include craft products,” Cooper explained.
“It’s something in which we’ve done things in a small way and which we may do again but it’s not in front of [our] minds just at the moment.”
But the task of acquiring a smaller craft brand is not for the faint of heart, acknowledged Dr Cooper.
“I think we just feel that the addition of craft brands is hard work,” he said.
“What we see generally is when the craft brewers sell to bigger brewers, sometimes that success is not translated to the bigger brewer because some people regard it as being a process of selling out.”
“Therefore people decide they’re not going to support the craft brewer anymore and you’ve also lost, depending on what the arrangement is, the passion and enthusiasm of the founders of the brewery.”
Despite these comments, Dr Cooper explained that the brewery will continue to observe the craft market and reflect on its own products.
“We feel that we are of a scale that means that we would prefer to focus on the brands that are going to be synergistic in terms of making a difference in volume,” he said.
“We’ll continue to reflect on the craft sector.”
Listen to the full interview with Dr Tim Cooper as part of last week’s Beer is a Conversation podcast.