Epic future secured by family business partnership

by | Aug 25, 2023 | Drinks, News

Craft beer lovers, history fans and aficionados have been wringing their hands since Epic Beer went into liquidation at the end of July. The company, founded in 2005, has been the stalwart of craft beer innovation and the pursuit of hoppy dreams in New Zealand and the demise of an investment partnership that saw the future become shaky.

Today marks an auspicious new horizon as a partnership of family-owned businesses buys Epic Beer – with a pedigree and long-standing performance record in the sector. 

Family-owned New Zealand businesses, the Russell Group and Hancocks Group have partnered to purchase the business and move it forward into the next phase.

We spoke with Jedda Jakicevich, Strategic Business Manager for Hancocks, who’s excitement was palpable. “We’ve just got massive respect for Luke (Nicholas) and what he’s built so far, and we wanted to take the opportunity to help continue that pioneering legacy. We’ve got the doors wide open so while it’s early days yet, we wouldn’t have stepped up to the table if there wasn’t the opportunity that Luke and Wendy could be involved.”

Confidence in the Russell/Hancocks partnership is also strong, with Jakicevich referencing previous commercial relationships and strong working foundation. “We’re not strangers here,” he said.

“Our families understand how integral Epic’s contribution has been to pioneering the craft resurgence in New Zealand while also showcasing New Zealand hops and ingeniuity to a global market. We are thrilled to represent Epic Beer to the New Zealand trade.”

“It’s early days for us, but we’re excited about this opportunity.”

Epic went into liquidation in July, 2023, due to financial pressures arising from COVID-19, rising costs of production and delays getting consents to develop its own brewery and tap room in Mt Wellington, Auckland. The liquidators have since been seeking a buyer.

The deal ensures Epic Beer continues being Epic, and continues to serve a cult following of fans in bars, restaurant and to retail throughout the country. It also enables the Epic Tap Room in Onehunga to continue to welcome Epic customers.

Russell Group Managing Director Brett Russell said the new ownership Partnership was working with the Epic Beer Founders, Luke and Wendy Nicholas, and was putting in place plans to ensure the essence of the business into the future.

“As two family-owned businesses, we understand the pressures at a low point in the cycle, and didn’t want this iconic, almost two-decade ‘game changer’ brand, developed by a family-owned business, to disappear,” said Mr Russell.

“We’ve bought it to strengthen what is already a great brand into the future,” he said.

About the Author

Tash McGill

Tash McGill works as a strategy consultant in tourism, hospitality and digital transformation. She is co-founder of The Feed, President of Food Writers NZ, Chair of the New Zealand Whisky Association.

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