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Founders First ‘well-placed’ to aide new ventures

As Founders First announce a new industry facing identity their CEO says they’ve received a number of partnership enquiries due to the effects of COVID-19. He said they were “well-placed” to work with some of these independent breweries when the time was right.

Beer & Brewer spoke to Founders First CEO Mark Haysman as the “craft accelerator” business revealed Mighty Craft would be the new parent company name to its multiple craft brands and venues. Founders First will remain the company name and its ASX stock symbol, but within the drinks industry, the business will now be known as Mighty Craft and it will encompass the likes of Jetty Road, Foghorn, Slipstream, Sparkke, Sauce and Ballistic.

Haysman said the name change comes as they seek to embark on their next stage of growth and to create a unified identity.

“We feel a strong collective identity is a lot more symbolic of what we’re all about,” he said.

“We want to play a leading role in growing craft beer more broadly and we think the re-branding captures the essence of that. We stand for the little guys (in the craft industry) and we want to help them punch above their weight.”

Haysman said in recent months the business had received a number of new enquiries from independent Australian breweries looking for a partnership due to the effects of COVID-19. He said Mighty Craft would assist some of these when they are “freed up” from the pressing concerns of their current investments.

Founders First recently posted to the ASX its fourth quarter results for the 2020 financial year. It showed they were well-funded, with $11.4 million in cash on hand, and wholesale revenue growth of +262 per cent for majority-controlled businesses and +112 per cent across their total portfolio (versus Q4 2019).

“It’s been a tricky time for the industry, but over recent months we’ve focused on supporting those we’ve invested in and rallied the troops to help them get through it. And I’m really proud of how we’ve been able to do that.

“But there will be some winners and some losers (because of COVID-19) and we’ve had breweries reach out to us. We’re well-placed to potentially support some of these and bring them into the network.

“These are some amazing businesses that may be just doing it tough right now. We certainly can’t work with everybody. But there will be new things arising. Stay tuned.”

Earlier this week Founders First announced Newcastle’s FogHorn Brewery, which it has a 75 per cent stake in, had officially expanded into the Hunter Valley by transforming the existing Hunter Beer Co at Potter’s Hotel into a craft beer haven.

Haysman said they will further invest in the Potters Hotel and FogHorn Brewery Hunter Valley site over the coming months.

“We are proud to be partnering with Shawn (Sherlock, Foghorn’s CEO) to extend the reach of Foghorn and accelerate business growth – with FogHorn having its biggest ever month in July from a wholesale perspective.

“We have some exciting plans ahead for Potters Hotel, creating a community hub that showcases Foghorn and our award-winning Australian beer and spirits portfolio.”

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