Gin distillery acquired by Founders First

Founders First has taken the majority shareholding in Green Ant Gin, an Indigenous Australian-owned brand which uses native ingredients.

The ASX-listed craft accelerator and hospitality business bought 65 per cent of the capital of newly-formed Australian Native Spirits, which owns the brand, for $400,000.

Former AFL player and original brand founder Daniel Motlop and associates own the remainder of the shareholding in the company.

Green Ant Gin was previously owned by South Australia’s Something Wild Beverages. The Australian Native Spirits company acquired the trademarks, recipe and distilling methodology for the gin from them.

Founders First has also provided a three-year $200,000 working capital loan to the company.

The accelerator has been branching out into spirits brands this year, having acquired Kangaroo Island Distillery for $1.5 million last month.

The deal was funded through existing cash reserves, and follows Founders First announcement last month that potential industry consolidation during the COVID-19 crisis could provide opportunities to acquire further businesses.

Founders First said that the Green Ant Gin brand has a “unique and appealing market position” having been awarded a gold medal at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition in 2018.

10,000 bottles of gin a year are produced by the brand, and Founders First’s directors believe it has “significant potential” to grow with support from the accelerator.

Green Ant Gin founder Daniel Motlop, himself an Indigenous Australian, works with the Northern Territory-based Larrakia people to source and harvest native botanicals for use in the distillation process.

“Native and wild ingredients have been harvested here for thousands of years. We have set up a chain where we are able to get Aboriginal people to harvest our greens. To be able to create jobs in Aboriginal communities where some of these places don’t have a lot of work is a great thing,” Motlop said in the announcement to the ASX.

CEO Mark Haysman said Founders First was proud to be associated with a business that “stands for something meaningful” and can make a positive contribution to Australian society.

“We feel privileged to partner with and back Daniel and the Motlop family to build and grow the Green Ant Gin brand and achieve the business purpose of becoming an enduring company and force for good,” he said.

Founders First acquired a raft of breweries in 2019, including Brisbane breweries Ballistic Beer and Slipstream, as well as Newcastle’s Foghorn, Sydney’s Sauce Brewing, and helped Jetty Road launch its second venue, before upping its stake in the business last month.

It has also moved towards a more venue-focused model at the end of last year, partly due to difficulty in getting brands in other pubs, bars and hotels. Having its own chain of venues will allow it to feature its brands heavily, CEO Mark Haysman said at the time.

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