Lion signals US plans with MD move

Matt Tapper, the Australia-based managing director of Lion Little World Beverages, is moving to the US to continue the acquisitive work of the company’s departing North America boss.

As reported in US brewing publication Brewbound, Simon Thorpe, who headed the North American craft beer division of Lion, is moving on after an 18-month contract in the role.

Tapper, who is based in Sydney, will move to the US alongside a team from Lion as part of pre-existing plans delayed due to COVID-19.

He will remain in his MD role, and oversee the expansion of the US business as Lion Little World Beverages looks to take a greater bite of the largest craft beer market in the world.

Thorpe, formerly Pabst Brewing CEO, has presided over the expansion of the business including Lion’s touchstone acquisition of New Belgium Brewing last year.

He told Brewbound that there is clear intent to establish a scale business in Lion Little World Beverages, and he was brought on for that purpose.

“New Belgium is the first step in that, and let’s call it the backbone of the platform,” he told the publication.

“And I think, having established the roadmap for them, there will be a number of other things that are acquired over the course of the next 12 to 24 months, and Lion’s commitment to that is undiminished.”

Lion Little World Beverages was first established as ‘Lion Global Markets’ in 2015 and is focused on growing a portfolio of craft beverages in new markets outside Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

The US has been a key growth market for the business. It launched the Little Creatures brand in San Francisco as its first foray into the US market in 2019.

It has previously opened sites in Singapore and Hong Kong under the Little Creatures brand as it looks to expand into the Asian markets, as well as acquiring Fourpure and Magic Rock Brewing in the United Kingdom, on top of its Little Creatures venue in London.

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