Although we would love to take credit for building a brand that just sold to a global giant – the recognition can only go to Lee, Kelley, and Michael; the owners of this successful Shanghai craft brewery. Their hard work and determination helped the business become noticed in a city where it is difficult to even stand out. The American-style brew pub that was launched in 2008 grew into a popular hang-out spot that has won over both expats and local clientele.
AB InBev (you know, the world’s largest brewer?), a company that describes itself as a “disruptive growth group,” purchased the craft beer champion through its subsidiary, ZX Ventures. This came shortly after its launch of the country’s first Goose Island Brewhouse and acquisition of the Kaiba chain, demonstrating an undeniable power play in China. The Belgium-based multinational company is making sure that they’re not too late to the craft game in world’s largest beer market.
In an interview with Drink Magazine Asia, Lee confirms that the team will be learning over the next few months how to best collectively use resources to establish best practices for long-term operation flexibility. It is likely that we’ll be seeing a lot more Boxing Cat beer in China, however, there won’t be any immediate changes to the brand. He also informed City Weekend that they “will stay on to help operate and continue to develop [their] vision as [they] always had since the founding of the brand.” The three partners are extremely committed to building a top Chinese brand with the help of this new partnership!
The craft beer market in China is only in its infancy, where majority of the consumer market still either do not know much about craft beer, or they’re just starting to dabble in expanding their palate (Drink Magazine Asia, 2017). This small, but fast-growing market, only accounts for as little as 0.1% of the country’s annual $80 billion in beer sales (Fortune, 2017). But because of rising demands for alternative beer choices from the younger generation and increased disposable income, this area shows terrific potential.
It seems like AB InBev is determined to make their mark in China’s craft beer industry and are likely not finished acquiring brands.