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CUB moves into wine with Riot Wine Co purchase

By Andy Young, The Shout

The growth of wine on tap has taken another turn today with Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) buying keg and canned wine company Riot Wine Co.

Riot Wine Co sells only wine in kegs and cans and while the wine is available at hundreds of venues around Australia, the partnership with CUB and it’s large on-tap network should see that aspect of the business grow massively.

CUB’s Vice President of Sales, Rose Scott, told TheShout there were several factors which made the Riot Wine Co business attractive to CUB.

“The interest in Riot Wine was its disruptive nature in the business and there’s not a lot of businesses in this space. So the fact that they were disruptive, innovative and delivering excellent, high quality wines in a sustainable way absolutely met with what our agenda is as a business to be in the forefront in that beverage.”

She added: “We are committed to being the best beverage company in Australia and expanding our portfolio to meet the evolving needs of Australian drinkers. Riot Wine Co will help us do that. Riot Wine Co is a truly innovative company and CUB shares its commitment to quality and sustainability. Its rapid expansion in just three years shows venues and retailers agree that it can deliver great things for consumers.

“We plan to accelerate the expansion of this growing business through our large on-tap network and more than 100 years of draught experience.”

Riot Co-Founder and General Manager, Joe Cook, said the company has been open to bigger partnerships for a long time.

“Our intention was always to create some scale and be a business that really reinvents the way people have wine, especially by the glass wine,” Cook told TheShout.

“This partnership just made a lot of sense. If you think about the hundreds of years of draught experience from CUB, they come in with a lot of insight and a lot of great partnerships. That’s the thing that really stood out to us, how good the partnerships they have with their customers are. We have great relationships with our customers as well, so being aligned on those things was really important.”

Fellow Riot Co-Founder and Chief Winemaker Tom O’Donnell added: “We are incredibly excited to be joining Carlton & United Breweries. Their investment, expertise and customer relationships will help us continue our rapid expansion.”

Riot produces wine from South Australian grapes and Cook said that with the business being built on two fundamentals – quality and sustainability – the focus will remain on packaging the wines in kegs and cans.

“You can’t achieve the level of sustainability without packaging in either cans or kegs. If you consider kegs have a lifetime of 30 years, you just can’t beat that in any other sort of packaging. Then if you think about aluminium, you can have 100 per cent recyclable aluminium, it’s the most recycled product on the planet.”

The timing of the deal is interesting as the $16bn bid from Asahi to buy CUB remains with the ACCC, but Scott told TheShout the discussions to buy Riot were in the pipeline long before the Asahi bid was tabled.

“This is part of our strategy to be first and foremost a great beverage company in Australia. We have been consistently looking at our total portfolio; beer is a fundamental part of our business but as consumers’ needs evolve and change we have always been looking to what other categories or drinks opportunities, particularly in the on-premise we might need to make those needs. Lexington Hill for example, in the in the cocktails arena is another one that we’ve done. So the strategy has been in place and consistently for quite a number of years.”

She added: “The Riot Wine Co team won’t change and management will stay on to ensure the elements that have helped drive the business’ success – a focus on quality wine from grape to glass, disruption and innovation, and the quality of its people and outstanding customer relationships – remain in place.”

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