BrewDog invests in urban cider

Craft beer giant BrewDog has announced its investment in London’s Hawkes cider which will support the producer’s “imminent growth both at home in the UK and internationally”.

The brewer added: “When we recently turned our attention to cider, we attempted to create it ourselves but found that the expertise didn’t already exist within our crew.

“A few months ago, we met with Simon Wright, the founder of Hawkes cider in London. Hawkes’ approach to cider parallels our heritage with beer, and we see huge potential in the difference the business can make to a mass-market monopolised segment of the drinks scene.

“We’ve invested in Hawkes, and will be supporting their imminent growth both at home in the UK and internationally. Their range of ciders will remain (and expand), and the people will stay put. Simon’s still at the helm with our senior team drafted in to support his ambitions, and we’re insanely excited to see where we can take cider together”.

This is BrewDog’s second outside investment in recent months. In March, it announced its acquisition of independent pub and bar operator Draft House for an undisclosed sum. Draft House operates 14 venues across London and the south east and BrewDog has stated that all 213 staff members will remain with the company.

Commenting on the investment, founder of Hawkes, Simon Wright, said: “We are in an industry that has for far too long allowed ‘big’ cider and mass market products to hold back innovation and growth. I’ve long been impressed by BrewDog’s attitude and approach to challenging the status quo of beer in the UK and around the world. Just like us, they stand up for those who want to break free, make a difference and take the cider scene into an entirely new era. I can’t wait to see what the future holds.”

“We’ve always made it clear that our mission is to be the best craft cider company in the world. We’ve also been overt that the UK cider market needs to change. Today, this new investment from BrewDog will accelerate the speed at which we can make this a reality. I believe most people will see Hawkes and BrewDog as a natural fit. The synergies in ethos of both businesses are bold and unique.

“The democratisation of cider in the UK, and the world, is our key priority, but we can’t do it alone. I hope this announcement proves to any cidermaker that the future of craft cider can be as exciting as beer if we continue to push boundaries, never compromise and most importantly, educate”.

Simon Wright, the founder of Hawkes cider.

Hawkes, which operates from its site on Druid Street in south east London, recently launched a co-fermented beer and cider hybrid called Graff.

As reported by The Telegraph, at its AGM over the weekend, co-founder of BrewDog, James Watt, said he is planning to float the company on the stock market as early as 2020.

Watt said he had sought advice from investment banks including Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan and Jefferies regarding his options, and said a listing was between two and four years away.

He added that he was planning to float 40% of the company, meaning that he and fellow co-founder Martin Dickie remaining the largest stakeholders.

Last year, the company was valued at £1 billion after it sold a 22% stake to US private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners for £213 million, which included a £100m investment to fund the brewer’s global expansion.

Having announced its intention to move into the spirits sector in 2014, BrewDog confirmed the brand identity of its distilling arm, LoneWolf, in June 2016. LoneWolf officially launched in April 2017 and now produces a gin, vodka, canned G&T and limited edition ‘gunpowder gin’, barrel-aged vodka and cranachan vodka.

Founded in 2007 in Aberdeenshire, BrewDog has already unveiled an ambitious programme of global expansion. Earlier this year it announced plans to open a brewery in China and confirmed a new brewery in Australia.

It runs 50 BrewDog bars globally: 33 in the UK, one in the US, one in Australia, one in Brazil and 14 across Europe and now has plans to open a ‘craft beer hotel’ at its headquarters in Scotland, after announcing plans for a similar scheme in Ohio.

2018 is already turning out to be quite a year for cider. In January, US beer giant Molson Coors bought Aspall Cider in a deal thought to be worth £40 million. Later in the same month, CAMRA announced proposals to expand its remit to include cider and perry. Trade fair ProWein also gave cider a share of the limelight, while pink cider has been billed as the drink of the summer. 

Furthermore, a number of cider brands including Magners, Bulmers, Addlestones and Blackthorn are set to benefit from the acquisition of Matthew Clark, Bibendum and their other subsidiaries by their owner, the C&C group, along with AB InBev.

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