Beer Cartel, Brewquets acquired by Just Wines

Beer Cartel, Brewquets acquired by Just Wines

After stocking up its cellar with non-alcoholic specialty store Sans Drinks in 2023 and topping that up with spirits-focused online store Liquor Loot this year, fast-growing Sydney-based group Just Wines is now throwing beer into the mix.

The company has today announced the acquisition of online beer store Beer Cartel and its gifting spin-off Brewquets for an undisclosed sum, just three years after Beer Cartel raised more than $1.4 million in a crowd-sourced funding (CSF) raise on Birchal.

Shares from the CSF round represent around 42 per cent of the total shares in Beer Cartel, which was initially founded as a beer subscription service by Geoff Huens and Richard Kelsey in a Kennards storage shed in 2009.

This would have signified a valuation of $3.4 million at the time.

Just Wines founder Nitesh Bhatia has declined requests for the purchase price and was unable to clarify whether it would mean a return on investment for the crowdfunding participants.

"After the creditors and others have been paid off, from what I know the balance will be distributed back to the shareholders," he tells Business News Australia.

"The shareholders will not be getting shares in Just Wines but the benefits they were given as part of the crowdfunding will be honoured and retained in the Beer Cartel business."

Bhatia says the acquisition will help the group deliver on its ambitions to have a greater share of the off-premise alcohol market in Australia.

"We started Just Wines in 2012 to support small wineries and provide an accessible platform for sellers and wine aficionados to connect," says Bhatia.

"We’ve seen significant growth within the business and have built out further capability through the acquisition of Sans Drinks and Liquor Loot.

"This most recent acquisition, means the group covers all main liquor categories in Australia, further strengthening our competitive position."

Beer Cartel co-founders Geoff Huens (left) and Richard Kelsey (right).
Beer Cartel co-founders Geoff Huens (left) and Richard Kelsey (right).

 

The Just Wines founder recognises the success Beer Cartel has had within the online craft beer space over the past 15 years.

"It has been an industry leader, as evident from winning Beer and Brewers’ Best Online Retailer award five times, and the numerous other awards the business picked up," Bhatia says.

"We’re excited to be the new custodian of the brand and see the success of the business going forward. We’ll be welcoming its diverse craft beer product range including its very popular Beer Advent Calendar."

He points to synergies across the group for Brewquets as well.

"We now have beer, wine, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks that we can offer as gifts to both consumers and businesses alike," he says.

"Brewquets can be a one-stop gifting shop for all occasions, whether it be a birthday, Christmas or client gift. Utilising our range from each business unit we are excited by the depth of product range we will be able to offer."

Just Wines founder Nitesh Bhatia.
Just Wines founder Nitesh Bhatia.

 

Bhatia also emphasises the importance of maintaining the key strengths of both Beer Cartel and Brewquets.

"We don’t want to revolutionise these two highly successful businesses. We’ll simply be looking at how we can integrate our key capabilities into these great organisations to grow the customer base for each," he says.

"We want to acknowledge the founders, Geoff and Richard, as well as the fantastic suppliers and customers that have been with the two businesses over the past 15 years. We look forward to deepening these relationships over the coming years."

He says both founders are helping with the transition in the short-to-medium term as part of the sale.

"Once that is done, we'll mutually plan the way forward for their involvement in the businesses. We have absorbed two team members from the business already."

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