Australian Beer Co, a subsidiary of Yellow Tail wine producer Casella Family Brands, is set to swallow Ampersand Projects, a trailblazing spirit and ready-to-drink (RTD) startup established just five years ago.
The move is aimed at fortifying Australian Beer Co’s position in the fast-growing drink categories and supplement the company’s existing suite of beer, cider, seltzer and RTD brands.
Melbourne-based Ampersand Projects, founded by Marcus Kellett, Shaun Rankins and Alex Bottomley, was established in 2018 with a single RTD product, Vodka Soda &, which was the first vodka-soda-based RTD beverage in Australia.
Today, the company has 32 SKUs (stock keeping units) in the market with 12 ranged at a national level and another 12 planned for launch in 2024.
Bottomley is a finalist in the Melbourne Young Entrepreneur Awards taking place tomorrow night, and alongside Kellett won the Australian Young Entrepreneur Award - Food & Beverage for the past two years running.
Financial details of the acquisition have not been disclosed, but Australian Beer Co says the Ampersand founders will stay with the business and maintain their roles to continue growing the business.
Bringing Ampersand Projects into the Australian Beer Co fold will provide the company access to its extensive capabilities and resources while provide the investment needed for the brands to reach their full potential.
“This is an exciting acquisition for Australian Beer Co as we continue to build our offering in the spirits and RTD categories,” says Casella Family Brands managing director John Casella.
“I look forward to the founders joining our business to continue the great success they have enjoyed to date.”
Casella Family Brands is a NSW-based family-owned company established in 1969. Along with Yellowtail wines, the company’s brands include Casella Family Wines and South Australia’s Peter Lehmann Wines and Brand’s Liara.
The Yenda-based Australian Beer Co, which until last year was a partnership between the Casella family and Coca-Cola Europacific Partners, produces a range of beers under the Yenda label as well as ciders, seltzer and RTD products.
Since inception, Ampersand Projects has sold more than 15 million cans across its product range.
“I see this acquisition as more than just a business deal; it is a relationship that brings together the strengths of two independent companies with similar ideologies to continue to innovate the spirit industry,” says Rankins.
“With both companies valuing trust, integrity and respect, this acquisition will see unparalleled synergies and continued growth.
“Utilising Casella Family Brands legacy and time-tested expertise – this new relationship will maintain and deepen our customer and supplier relationships, remaining a proudly Independent Australian business.”
Th acquisition positions Australian Beer Co to capitalise on the rapidly growing vodka soda and RTD market.
Ampersand’s flagship product, Vodka, Soda &, was the first unflavoured vodka soda RTD to hit Australian liquor stores, encouraging consumers to ‘add whatever you want’.
The company has developed a cult-like following through a successful social media strategy that has positioned itself as an aspirational and lifestyle brand with a ‘better for you’ approach and focus.
Ampersand’s portfolio includes a wide range of product categories?including?vodka, gin, ginger?beer?and tequila RTD products.
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