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Former Lion CEO joins Hawke’s Brewing Co

The former Global CEO of Lion, Rob Murray, has joined the independently-owned Hawke’s Brewing Co in the role of Advisory Chairman.

Co-Founders Nathan Lennon and David Gibson met Murray through their connection with Bob Hawke and after things developed after Murray caught up with the pair for a beer and to offer some ‘advice from afar’.

“We initially didn’t expect Rob to come on in an official capacity,” Lennon told Beer & Brewer. “We’d hoped that we could occasionally seek his advice in some kind of mentor capacity. But after a few more catch-ups, Rob started talking about Hawke’s in terms of ‘we’ instead of ‘you’.

“It became clear that he felt invested in the journey. Rob loved that David and I had given up everything to get this business off the ground and I think, like us, he also wanted to help look after Bob’s legacy. It’s a personal thing for all of us. We’re making decisions from the heart just as much as the head.”

Lennon added that he was looking forward to Murray’s “top down” view of the business, which is backed by his wealth of experience in the beer industry.

“David and I are still in the weeds of the business, wearing multiple hats, and even still out on the road doing sales calls. So it’s important to have someone of Rob’s calibre who can stand back from afar and see the things we can’t.”

Hawke’s Brewing Co, has now been running for just two-and-a-half years and Lennon said that he and Gibson are still developing the business, but they are growing the team and most importantly they are focused on opening their own facility next year.

“In terms of our growth, we’ve more than doubled our volume in the past year and every month has eclipsed the last, even throughout winter. We’re still brewing up at Hope Estate, which has allowed us to find our feet in other areas of the business but it’s also limited our ability to take things to the next level with our own facility.

“We’re encouraged by the fact that things are moving along as well as they are, despite not having that piece of the puzzle in place just yet.”

And in terms of the piece of the puzzle, Lennon told Beer & Brewer: “We’ve been looking for a site for some time. How do you find and build a home worthy of Bob Hawke’s legacy, while making absolute sense for our brand and business, now and in the future?

“It doesn’t happen overnight and the goalposts are incredibly narrow. But we’re getting close. We’re going to open something in 2020.”

It’s on that backdrop that Murray joins the brewer, bringing invaluable experience with him.

During his time as CEO of Lion, the company completed major acquisitions of James Boags and Little Creatures, while generating high growth through building its own internally created ‘craft beer brands’ such as James Squire, Knappstein and Kosciusko in Australia, as well as Mac’s in New Zealand.

In conjunction with organic growth, this ultimately took Lion to beer market leadership in both Australia and New Zealand for the first time in the company’s history. By 2012, Lion Co. grew into Australasia’s biggest beer company.

Speaking about joining Hawke’s Murray said: “I knew Bob well, having worked with him on the board of the Bestest charity for over a decade. This is a rare opportunity to work with David, Nathan and the Hawke’s team and help them achieve success in Bob’s name, in a market that I am passionate about.”

Hawke’s Brewing Co remains a 100 per cent Australia-owned and operated company. The company has a foundation partnership with Landcare Australia, with contributions from its beer sales helping to raise awareness and provide financial support for Landcare projects throughout the country. Mr. Hawke held no financial interest in Hawke’s Brewing Co., instead opting to have his benefit donated to support the company’s partnership with Landcare Australia.

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