As the big boys are struggling to grow, craft breweries continue to surge. The regional and national operations are drawing a lot of interested would-be buyers:
Craft’s growth is driving the interest. The segment’s sales surged 15 percent last year by volume as the U.S. beer industry overall struggled to post a 0.9 percent increase, according to Boulder, Colorado-based trade group Brewers Association. The demand has created pricing power as craft sales jumped 17 percent in dollar terms.
But there’s a lot of push-back for reasons that are obvious to anyone that’s ever visited a craft brewery and met with brewers in person. Here’s Larry Bell on why he doesn’t sell:
“It takes so long to build equity in the brewery, once you’ve got it — especially if your name is on it,” he said. “Do you really want to sell that to some private-equity people that are just there to make a bunch of money and flip it? What does that do for your legacy? That’s not why I spent 30 years building the business.”
It’s a personal thing to a lot of people. Even as a brewery grows into a large distributor for your region, you can still feel an individual connection to a local taproom. That kind of connection is something equity firms sometimes overlook–it’s the kind of thing that doesn’t come with your contract to buy the equipment and the facilities.