Lion’s MD global craft business departs

November 12, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Matt Tapper, Managing Director of Lion’s global craft business, will leave Lion in March 2022. The news comes just the day after the company announced its acquisition of Michigan’s Bell’s Brewery, a move which has cemented Lion’s position as a leader in the US craft beer market.

Mr Tapper has worked with Lion for 25 years, the past six as Managing Director of Lion Little World Beverages.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said: “I’d like to thank Matt for his significant contribution to Lion over many years, and most recently his excellent leadership of Lion’s global craft business during the pandemic. He has kept our people safe, maintained business continuity, and continued to deliver great commercial outcomes.”  

“Earlier in his career, Matt established Speight’s as a leading national brand in New Zealand, followed by award-winning campaigns for XXXX Island and Tap King, along with the launches of Furphy and the integration of Little Creatures.

“Matt’s leadership and strategic foresight has created a strong platform for growth in the US with the successful acquisition of New Belgium in 2019 and Bell’s Brewing announced this week. We thank Matt for his entrepreneurial spirit and passion and wish him all the best for the future.” 

In announcing his departure, Mr Tapper said: “Lion has provided me with the opportunity to create some incredible brand experiences for consumers and customers all over the world. To do that with a great bunch of colleagues has been an absolute pleasure.

“I’m especially proud of establishing a new business over the past six years – from that first small micro-brewery in Hong Kong, to Little Creatures becoming the number one craft beer in Singapore, through to major acquisitions in the UK and establishing ourselves as a leader in US craft with New Belgium and now Bell’s.

“Each step we have taken has been smarter, bolder and bigger – I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I wish my Lion and Kirin colleagues every success for the future.”    

“I’m looking forward to spending an Australian summer with my family after two years in the U.S. and I’m long overdue a beer with my Lion colleagues and friends in Australia and New Zealand.”

Mr Tapper will continue to lead the UK craft beer and US fine wine businesses until his departure next year.

New Belgium CEO, Steve Fechheimer will lead the combined New Belgium and Bell’s craft beer business from the United States, joining Lion’s Group Leadership team and reporting to CEO, Stuart Irvine from 1 January 2022.

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