Foster’s, the iconic Australian brewery now owned by global player SABMiller, has lost another local contract, with rival Lion winning a deal to sell classic Irish beers Guinness and Kilkenny in Australia.
Lion said today it had reached an agreement with Diageo to add Guinness and Kilkenny to its Australian portfolio from November.
The agreement includes the local brewing of Guinness Draught, Kilkenny Draught and Extra Stout, as well as distribution, sales and marketing. Diageo remains the brand owner of the beers.
James Brindley, managing director Lion Beer, Spirits & Wine Australia, said Lion was thrilled to welcome Guinness and Kilkenny to its Australian portfolio.
“These brands strengthen our leading international premium portfolio, with Lion now offering six of the top ten beers in this fast growing segment. Guinness and Kilkenny have fantastic heritage and we are delighted to have the opportunity to further grow these brands in Australia,” he said.
The new agreement extends the partnership Diageo has with Kirin, Lion’s Japanese owner, in the Asia-Pacific region. Kirin is Diageo’s distribution partner in Japan, and Lion currently manufactures and distributes Guinness and Kilkenny in New Zealand through a pre-existing relationship with Diageo.
Foster’s will continue to manufacture Guinness and Kilkenny in Australia until the end of October.
Since SABMiller’s $12 billion takeover of Foster’s last year, the brewer has lost a string of local distribution deals as global brewing companies have become uncomfortable with their labels being distributed by SAB which is a major rival.
In March, Mexican brewer Modelo used the change of ownership of Foster’s to bin a deal for it to sell Corona in Australia. Foster’s lost Corona to Lion, a huge loss for new owners SABMiller with the Mexican beer the biggest selling foreign beer in Australia.
Other popular beer labels are also expected to swap camps in coming months.