Our History

Formed by the amalgamation of some of Australia and New Zealand’s most celebrated food and beverage companies, Lion has a rich local heritage.


5 Seeds - The Clean Crisp TasteKirin Holdings Company Limited assumes 100 per cent ownership of Lion Nathan. Lion Nathan is merged with National Foods (owned by Kirin since 2007), to form Lion Nathan National Foods.

Global brewer, Anheuser-Busch InBev, appoints Lion Nathan distribution rights to the Budweiser group of brands in Australia and New Zealand, and distribution of Staropramen in New Zealand.

Lion Nathan's first cider brands are launched - Tooheys Extra Dry 5 Seeds in Australia and Mac's Isaac's Cider in New Zealand.


Dairy Farmers members overwhelmingly support the National Foods offer to acquire the Co-operative, with a change of ownership occurring on 27 November 2008. In September, National Foods acquires Hillwood Cheese, specialists in fetta style cheeses.

Kegs of James BoagsLion Nathan acquires iconic Tasmanian brewer J. Boag & Son.

Lion Nathan acquires US wine import company, Cumulus Wines, creating Lion Nathan Wine – incorporating the company's owned wine brands and distribution company Fine Wine Partners.


San Miguel Corporation announces the sale of 100 per cent of National Foods to Kirin Holdings Company Limited.

Lion Nathan acquires Inner Circle Rum brand and distillery.


National Foods acquires the Lactos Pty Ltd business, formerly a subsidiary of Bongrain SA, to develop and grow its Cheese and Gourmet Foods division.


San Miguel subsidiary Berri Limited merges with National Foods, combining leading brands Berri, Daily Juice, Australian Fresh, Just Juice and many more into one portfolio.

Fine Wine Partners, a joint venture between fine wine distributors Distinguished Vineyards and Tucker Seabrook, is established in Australia.


National Foods is acquired by San Miguel Corporation, following an unsuccessful takeover bid by Fonterra Co-operative Group from New Zealand.

HeinekenHeineken and Lion Nathan establish a joint venture – Heineken Lion – to brew, market and distribute Heineken in Australia.

Following a competitive sale process, Lion Nathan sells the Chinese beer business to China Resources Breweries.


National Foods acquires an ambient dairy beverage plant in Cobden in Victoria. The national supermarket house brand milk supply contract is awarded to National Foods for a further three years.

Bacardi-Martini and Lion Nathan establish a joint venture – Bacardi Lion – to market and distribute a range of spirit brands in Australia.


National Foods enters the specialty cheese and gourmet foods market with the acquisition of the King Island Dairy Company. A new Vitasoy soy beverage plant at Wodonga Victoria is opened.

National Foods wins the first national supermarket house brand milk contract, the largest grocery foods contract in Australia.

Wither Hills - Created in the VineyardLion Nathan purchases a controlling interest in premium Australian wine companies Petaluma and Banksia, with brands including Petaluma, Stonier, Croser, Mitchelton, Knappstein, Tatachilla, St Hallett and Oregon-based Argyle Wines. A year later, it acquires New Zealand wine company Wither Hills.


Australia's milk industry is deregulated. National Foods becomes the national market leader in flavoured milk with the acquisition of the Big M brand.

Lion Nathan shifts its domicile and primary stock exchange listing to Australia.


Pura becomes Australia's first and only national milk brand when National Foods' new Crestmead milk plant is opened. A new milk plant at Salisbury (SA) and a new cream plant at Chelsea (VIC) are also opened. National Foods acquires the Yoplait franchise in New Zealand.

The Malt Shovel BreweryThe Hahn Brewery is renamed the Malt Shovel Brewery in honour of Australia's first commercial brewer.


National Foods announces plans to enter the Queensland milk market with the construction of a plant at Crestmead. The dairy foods plant at Morwell opens.

Douglas Myers, acting as Chairman of the Lion Nathan Board, sells most of his 16 per cent share in Lion Nathan to Kirin Brewery Company of Japan. Kirin goes on to acquire a 45 per cent interest in the company, creating the fourth largest brewing alliance in the world.


National Foods' corporate head office is relocated from Sydney to Melbourne.

The remainder of New Zealand Breweries takes on the name Lion Breweries.

After 15 years as Managing Director then Chief Executive Officer, Douglas Myers is appointed Chairman of the Lion Nathan Board.


National Foods secures the rights to manufacture and distribute Yoplait fresh dairy food products in Australia.

Lion Nathan enters the Chinese beer market through the purchase of a controlling interest in the Taihushui brewery in Wuxi.


Masters Dairy in West Australia is acquired. National Foods gains leadership of the national market milk sector.

Wither Hills logoBrent Marris establishes the Wither Hills wine label.


United Dairies in New South Wales is acquired.

Lion Nathan acquires the remaining 50 per cent of Natbrew Holdings. Tooheys, Castlemaine Perkins and the Swan Brewing Company begin operating as independent breweries under the Lion Nathan umbrella. A year later, Lion Nathan acquires New South Wales boutique brewer, Hahn Brewing, and the South Australian Brewing Company.


National Foods is listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. The Just Juice brand is acquired.

XXXX GoldXXXX GOLD is born.


Lion Nathan buys a 50 per cent share in Natbrew Holdings, which owned Alan Bond's brewing assets in Australia – including Castlemaine Tooheys and Swan Brewing.


Lion Nathan is formed when New Zealand's largest retailer, LD Nathan & Co, merges with brewer, wine and spirit manufacturer and hotel operator, Lion Breweries.


Building starts on the Hahn Brewery, in a converted furniture factory in Camperdown, Sydney. Hahn Premium is born.


Castlemaine Tooheys is acquired by Bond Corporation.


Alan Bond's Bond CorporationThe Swan Brewery becomes a wholly owned subsidiary of Alan Bond's Bond Corporation.


McCashins Brewery is established by Terry McCashin in Nelson, New Zealand. Mac's Real Ale is born.

Campbell & Ehrenfried sells shares in New Zealand Wines and Spirits and purchase a 20 per cent share in Lion Breweries.


Tooheys and Castlemaine Perkins merge to form Castlemaine Tooheys.


The Standard BreweryThe Standard Brewery closes and all Tooheys operations relocate to Auburn.


Dairy Farmers invests in an Ultra High Temperature (UHT) production line. The long-life UHT milk was a great success and the Dairy Farmers business gained an immediate market in the hotel and airline industry.

The northern division of New Zealand Breweries takes on the name Lion Breweries.


Brian Croser establishes Petaluma in South Australia and makes the first Petaluma wine, a Riesling from a Goulburn Valley vineyard.


New Zealand Wines & Spirits is formed through a 50/50 joint venture by Campbell & Ehrenfried and New Zealand Breweries.


Douglas Myers becomes CEO of Campbell & Ehrenfried.


LD Nathan acquires Waikato Breweries from CL Innes.


Speight's Gold Medal Ale logoSpeight's is taken off the market, but reintroduced after public outcry.


Steinecker (renamed Steinlager in 1962) is born.


The Lindner Family establish St Hallett in Australia's best known wine region, the Barossa Valley.


Tooheys New - For the Love of BeerTooheys NEW is born.


The Castlemaine Brewery buys out major rival Perkins & Co, which owned the City Brewery, the Toowoomba Brewery, the Toowoomba Maltings and a number of hotels. The new company is known as Castlemaine Perkins.

Swan acquires major competitor, the Emu Brewery.


The first caricature of Mr. Fourex appears in an advertisement. XXXX BITTER is born.


Lion Brewery is one of the ten major brewing companies that amalgamate to form New Zealand Breweries Ltd.

Emu Bitter is born.


The Great Northern Brewery becomes officially known as the Lion Brewery when the company merges with Campbell & Ehrenfried.


By the start of the 1920s, the Dairy Farmers Co-operative was receiving, processing and selling nearly 23 million litres (five million gallons) of milk a year.


Previously known as Stanley Co-operative Brewery and the Albion Brewery, the Emu Brewery is established in Perth.


With the family-owned Tooheys business being transferred to a limited company, the Stag is chosen as the Tooheys trademark. The symbol is derived from John Toohey's favourite hotel, the Bald Faced Stag Hotel in Leichardt, Sydney.


The Dairy Farmers Co-operative Milk Co. was formed on January 15 1900. Sixty five stakeholders, many of them dairy farmers from the New South Wales Illawarra region, came together and agreed to run the new organisation on 'true co-operative lines'. The Co-operative would help these early farmers to work together to effectively market their milk and butter directly to consumers in the city.

1800s & 1700s

The Albert Brewery and Hobson Bridge Brewery amalgamate to create Campbell & Ehrenfried.


The South Australian Brewing Company is formed through a merger of the West End Brewery, the Kent Town Brewery and wine and spirits merchant Rounsevell & Simms.


The first brew is produced in the Castlemaine Milton Brewery.

The Ehrenfried brothers buy the Albert Brewery in Auckland.


Milton BeerThe Fitzgerald brothers form a partnership with Kate Quinlan, George Gray and Robert Prendergast with the intent to build a brewery in Brisbane. They purchase the failing Milton Distillery and much of the surrounding land.


Speight's logoJames Speight, Charles Greenslade and William Dawson establish the City Brewery (now the Speight's Brewery) in Dunedin. Speight's is born, two months before its makers obtain a license.


The Standard Brewery opens near Sydney's Central Station and Tooheys prospers.


Tooheys OldJohn Thomas Toohey and his younger brother, James Matthew, join forces and buy the Darling Brewery in Sydney. The brothers begin trading as JT & J Toohey and give Australia its first taste of Tooheys Old.


Pioneer brewer Richard Seccombe founds the Great Northern Brewery at Khyber Pass. He uses the Lion from his family crest as its logo.


West End Brewery - Pale AleThe West End Brewery is established by William Clark in Hindley Street, Adelaide. West End Draught is born.


Swan BreweryEarly West Australian settler Frederick Sherwood establishes the original Swan Brewery, in what is now the suburb of Sherwood Court in Perth. Swan Draught is born.


LD Nathan established as a trading company in Russell, New Zealand and moved to Auckland soon after.


James Squire, convicted highway robber and publican, produces the first commercial ale and becomes Australia's first brewer. His legacy now lives on through Lion Nathan's Malt Shovel Brewery, which adopts the James Squire name for its unique range of handcrafted beers.

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