In four years, Four Pillars is 100% Lion owned

July 4, 2023
By Melissa Parker

Brewing giant Lion announced this morning it will take full ownership of Four Pillars Gin as it takes progressive steps into premium spirits at a time when beer sales are under pressure.

Four years after purchasing 50% of Four Pillars in 2019 for a rumoured $40 million, the Japanese-owned brewer has announced it purchased the remainder of the company. The Australian Financial Review reported Lion acquired the second half of the business for an estimated $50 million.

Lion Group CEO Sam Fischer announced the brewer is taking full ownership to establish a new stand-alone spirits division called Four Pillars Global Spirits combining Four Pillars and the Vanguard business. The new division will be led by former Beam Suntory executive, Ed Stening who will report to Lion Australia Managing Director, David Smith.

Four Pillars was founded in 2013 by Stuart Gregor, Cameron McKenzie, and Matt Jones. Stuart Gregor will leave the business on September 1. Chief distiller Cameron McKenzie and Matt Jones, brand strategy director will remain in their roles and join the Lion-owned Vanguard Luxury Brands distribution business.

The acquisition includes ownership of the distillery in Healesville and all domestic and international sales and marketing of the brand. 

“It’s not every day you get to buy the world’s best gin distillery but today Lion is absolutely thrilled to add Four Pillars to our portfolio. Twice winners of the International Gin Distillery of the year, on the shortlist again this year, and Australia’s benchmark craft spirit – it is a great day for our business,” says Fischer.

“We look forward to supporting the continued growth of this remarkable brand, working with Cam and Matt to help drive our future plans. Alongside continued investment behind our core beer business, we see premium spirits as a real opportunity for future growth.”

Cameron Mackenzie said: “This is a great day for our brand, the business, our home in Healesville, our investors, families and staff. It does feel like it’s been a whirlwind 10 years, and this feels like the absolute right next step. 

“Lion has played an integral part in us expanding our Healesville home, increasing our footprint across Australia and now increasingly New Zealand, as well as helping us plug into some great opportunities internationally and in Global Travel Retail through the wider Lion network.”

The following statement by the Four Pillars Distillery in Healesville was released earlier;

“It’s a landmark day, approaching a decade since we started Four Pillars. What began as a dream to make the best gin we could from the back of a mate’s winery in Warrandyte has become actually the world’s best gin, made at probably the best gin distillery on the planet, right here in Healesville. 

“Lion has been a wonderful, supportive partner since March 2019; they backed us at every step through Covid, helped us fund our incredible new distillery and allowed us to grow, create and experiment in gin as much as we liked. And we have grown together, we have learnt more about how to work with a more divergent customer base across Australia and New Zealand and they have learnt what makes Australia’s top craft distillery tick.

“This is a great day for our investors (many of whom are staff and old mates) who supported us when we were nothing more than a pipe dream. It is also a day where we need to reinforce what we have done and what we will continue to do: make the world’s best gin at the world’s most sustainable distillery while having a whole load of fun.”

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