Lion swallows Boag

Who is James Boag? Well you might ask. Until recently, this much-loved Aussie beer belonged to Philippines-based San Miguel Corporation. But under a deal announced last November, ownership of J Boag & Sons Pty Ltd, and with it James Boag Premium Lager, passed to Lion Nathan Limited in January.

Lion also negotiated in January the termination of a Carlton & United Beverages’ mainland distribution contract for Boag – leaving the way free for Lion to control distribution of its new brand.

The question for drinkers is what affect the change of ownership might have on the Boag beer brands. Will the beers or brewery change? Will there be new products?

Figures released by Lion when it announced the acquisition suggest no reason for wholesale change. Boag’s sales in financial 2006 of $92million, and profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $17.9million, suggest a robust business driven by strong brands.

In a phone interview on 30 January, Lion chief brewer, Bill Taylor, said that while there’d be early back-office investment in computerised systems at Boag, the opportunity for Lion lay more in understanding the brewery’s history and in finding new opportunities for its successful beers than in rushing into changes. It’ll be interesting to revisit Boag next year.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2008