B Corp Stone & Wood sold to Lion in a $500 million deal
22 September 2021 at 2:44 pm
As the very first brewery in Australia to become a B Corp, Stone & Wood has always championed community, people and planet. So, what happens to its B Corp status now it’s been sold?
In a move that’s said to have shocked the independent beer sector, B Corp Stone & Wood announced last week that it had been acquired by international beer company Lion.
The deal is reportedly worth $500 million with Stone & Wood’s parent company, Fermentum Group, handing over all its brands including Stone & Wood, Two Birds Brewing, Fixation, Little Dragon and Sunly Seltzer as part of the sale.
Lion Australia’s managing director James Brindley said that Lion had huge respect for what the founders had created and wanted to continue to grow what they started.
“We have a shared vision of ‘brewing as a force for good’,” Brindley said.
“Lion is Australia’s first large-scale carbon neutral brewer and we will be backing the Stone & Wood, Two Birds and Fixation breweries to go carbon neutral as well. There are a lot of areas where we can learn from each other.”
In 2016, Stone & Wood became Australia’s first B Corp brewery. At the time the founders said they saw themselves as a brewery that supported their local Byron Bay community, as well as a business that wanted to make a wider and positive impact.
But what does a sale of this size mean for the company’s B Corp status?
A Stone & Wood spokesperson told Pro Bono News that following completion of the sale, the business would have the full backing of Lion to continue with B Corp certification.
They also stated that Lion had committed to support any future conversations with B Lab.
“We’re dedicated to upholding high standards of practice well into the future and continue to operate under the ethos that beer can be used as a force for good. These are values shared with Lion,” they said.
“The B Corp certification framework rewards businesses differently depending on how they operate. For Stone & Wood, we earn the bulk of our B-Corp points due to our industry-leading environmental metrics, our worker benefits, and our community engagement. We will continue to lead the way in these areas.”
Fermentum co-founder and chairman Jamie Cook said the combination of timing and finding the right custodian to take the business forward made the sale the natural next step for Fermentum.
“After an extensive strategic review exploring options to set us up for future growth, we decided to test the waters on whether now was the right time for the founding families to find a custodian to grow Fermentum’s legacy, its people, its culture and its brands, and continue to drive the business forward whilst staying true to its purpose,” Cook said.
“We only looked for a custodian who would be committed to building the brewery and to support our work in the community.
“Not only did Lion welcome these ideas with enthusiasm, they demonstrated they have similar values and a focus on environmental and social governance aligned to our ‘force for good’ approach.”