Who We Are

Our History

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

1795

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's Malt Shovel Brewery, which adopts the James Squire name for its unique range of handcrafted beers.

1840

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

1857

Early 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.

1859

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

1861

 

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

1872

 

John 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.

1875

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

1876

Opening of Speight's Brewery in Dunedin. 

1877

The 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.

1878

 

The first brew is produced in the Castlemaine Milton Brewery.
The Ehrenfried brothers buy the Albert Brewery in Auckland.

1888

 

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.

1898

 

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

1902

 

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 Leichhardt, Sydney.

1908

 

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

1914


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

1923

 

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

1924

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

1928

 

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.

1931

Tooheys NEW is born.

1958

 

Steinecker (renamed Steinlager in 1962) is born.

1960

Speight's is taken off the market, but reintroduced after public outcry.

1961

 

LD Nathan acquires Waikato Breweries from CL Innes.

1965


Douglas Myers becomes CEO of Campbell & Ehrenfried.

1971

 

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

1977

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

1978


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

1980

Tooheys and Castlemaine Perkins merge to form Castlemaine Tooheys.

1981

 

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.

1982

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

1985


Castlemaine Tooheys is acquired by Bond Corporation.

1987

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

1988


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.

1990

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.

1991

XXXX Gold is born and at only 3.5% ABV goes on to become an Australian favourite beer

1992/93

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.

1994

Brent Marris establishes the Wither Hills wine label.

1995

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

1997

 

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.

1998

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.

1999

 

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

2000

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

2001/2002

Lion 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.

2003

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

2004

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

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

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

2007

 

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.

Heineken Lion JV dissolved – Lion continues to distribute Heineken in Australia today

2008

Lion 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.

2009

Kirin 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.

2011

 

We become Lion. Operating as one company with three businesses:

1. Lion Beer Spirits and Wine Australia
2. Lion Beer Spirits and Wine NZ
3. Lion Dairy and Drinks

Lion acquires Little World Beverages in Australia, and Emersons in New Zealand

2014

Lion acquires Morton Estate in NZ from The Wine Portfolio. The purchase includes Morton Estate’s Stone Creek vineyard, adjacent to Lion’s Wither Hills property in Marlborough.

Little Creatures Geelong opens, more than doubling the brand’s brewing capacity in Australia.

2015

Lion Global Markets is established with a drive to take a little of Lion’s best Australian and New Zealand craft beers and ciders to the rest of the world, and accelerate growth of the wine business in North America.

Lion sells its everyday cheese business to Warrnambool Cheese and Butter.

White Rabbit opens new brewery and barrel hall in Geelong.

2016

The first Little Creatures overseas venue opens in Hong Kong.

Lion acquires Panhead in NZ and Byron Bay Brewery in Australia.

New Emerson’s Brewery opens in Dunedin, NZ after more than three years’ planning and a twelve month build.

Lion sells its Fine Wine Partners business to Accolade Wines, to allow priority investment in its core categories of beer and cider.

2017

 

Lion invests in Goodbuzz Beverage Co NZ, Schibello Coffee, Made by Cow, Ordermentum and BarCats. The investments are part of Lion’s growing partnerships with entrepreneurs to help their businesses flourish.
Malt Shovel, Lion’s dedicated craft beer business, is established to nurture a collection of new brands and breweries and make doing business easier for the licensed trade in Australia.

2018

 

Lion acquires NZ’s Havana Coffee Works and invests in Remedy Kombucha.

Lion acquires Harrington’s in NZ and Fourpure in the UK.

Little Creatures Singapore opens.

The Fermentist opens in Christchurch with a significant focus on the environment and local community.

2019

Lion Little World Beverages acquires leading U.S. craft brewer, New Belgium Brewing.

Little Creatures London and San Francisco open.

Lion acquires leading UK craft brewer Magic Rock Brewing, and expands its USA wine business with Markham Vineyards and TEXTBOOK Wines.

In NZ, Little Creatures Hobsonville opens. Lion also grows its Drinks Collective portfolio with Teza Iced Teas.

Lion takes stakes in Vanguard Luxury Brands and Four Pillars Gin, furthering its partnerships in craft and premium spirits.

Launch of Heineken 0.0 alcohol free beer.

Lion completes the sale of its specialty cheese business to Saputo Dairy Australia, including the King Island Dairy, Tasmanian Heritage and South Cape brands.

Lion acquires leading U.S. craft brewer New Belgium Brewing.

2020

Lion Australia become the first major carbon neutral certified brewer in Australia.

Sale of Lion Dairy & Drinks business. 

2021


Sale of Dairy & Drinks to Bega Cheese Limited.

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