With major brand acquisitions and several new releases, 2023 was a positive year for Lion and has created a solid foundation for further growth in 2024.

Lion’s intent focus for 2023 was to grow categories, enabled by continued investment its portfolio of popular beer brands and its growing spirits portfolio. Hahn was a particular success, with 18.4 per cent volume growth compared to 2022 and growth across all states.

Stone & Wood continued its momentum, with 31 per cent volume growth. Meanwhile, XXXX increased volume by 5.5 per cent nationally and 6.4 per cent in Queensland.

Notably, Lion took full ownership of Four Pillars last year, and David Smith, Managing Director, Lion Australia is excited to see the brand continue to grow throughout 2024.

“Premium gin has seen exceptional growth in recent years, and Four Pillars has been right at the forefront of that trend. We look forward to supporting the continued growth of this remarkable brand,” he said.

Some other key moments in 2023 were the introduction of Kirin Hyoketsu to the Australian market, the brand’s international debut, Little Creatures entering the non-alc market with Flying Low, and the release of the ultra-low carb Hahn Ultra.

However, Lion made the difficult decision to close a number of its smaller craft breweries and will instead focus on investing in its core craft brands.

“There was such incredible growth in craft that it had to hit a peak. Despite the more recent trend it’s an incredible growth story and great for the beer category in general,” Smith said.

In 2024 Lion aims to grow across all areas of the business with a particular focus on returning the beer category to growth with continued big investment in marketing and sales support across our brands and category drivers.

“We are investing more behind our icon brands of XXXX and Tooheys to build core beer. We are investing more to drive the growth of the mindful choices category through Hahn and innovation. Premiumisation remains an important category driver with a focus on Stone & Wood and James Squire. RTDs have also been a great growth driver for us, and we will be supporting category growth with spend and innovation in our Kirin Hyoketsu, White Claw and James Squire brands. We are looking forward to a great year of partnering with our customers to help grow their businesses,” Smith said.

Overall, Lion will continue to develop its brands in order to respond to the changing needs of consumers.

“We are excited as ever to be a part of our great industry and work alongside our valued customers to continue to bring people together and make moments mean more,” Smith said.

Striving for sustainability

With its increasing importance to the consumer, sustainability has been a key focus for Lion. The company is on track to exceed its 2030 science-based emissions reduction targets and significantly improve water efficiency at its scale Tooheys and XXXX breweries.

“At Lion we’re also aware that the typical Australian is ever more conscious of their impact on the world and the powerful role their choices can have in driving positive change. Similarly, we know our customers want to work with suppliers that can help them achieve their sustainability goals, while helping them reduce unnecessary waste and costs,” Smith said.

This article originally appeared in the 2024 Leaders Forum issue of National Liquor News.

Deborah Jackson

Deb joined Intermedia in 2015 as Editor of National Liquor News and Deputy Editor of The Shout. Since then, she has also worked as the Editor of Beer & Brewer and the New Zealand title, World of Wine....

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