Lion NZ managing director Rory Glass is leaving the business after a restructure that will create a more closely aligned trans-Tasman business.
Glass has overseen some of the most dramatic changes in the New Zealand craft beer scene – notably the purchase of Emerson’s and Panhead Custom Ales.
Glass announced he will leave at the end of February. The new trans-Tasman model that kicks in on 1st February 2021.
The drinks business, owned by Japanese brewer Kirin, is moving to an integrated global operating model. The overhaul of the business follows a review of Lion’s operating model.
Glass said and the new structure would allow better use of resources and expertise across Lion’s global network, bringing “simplicity, consistency and best practice”.
“In recent months we have been reviewing our operating model to find ways to simplify the way we work, and to set up global centres of excellence in areas such as supply chain, finance, digital, advanced analytics and customer experience,” Glass told Brews News in a statement.
“These changes have been made with a clear focus on delivering for our customers and consumers, growing our brands and embedding new skills across the business.”
As a result of the change, the role of managing director in New Zealand will change to that of a country director.
Glass has been managing director of Lion NZ for almost 10 years and was instrumental in helping to create the new model. He said he was taking the opportunity to move in a new direction.
Craig Baldie who has had a long successful career at Lion, most recently in the role of commercial director, was announced as the new country director, effective 1st February 2021.
“Craig has a deep understanding of the New Zealand market, consumers and customers has established himself as a highly effective leader with an impressive record of achievement. After many years on my leadership team, Craig has my full support and backing as he takes on this new role,” Glass said.
Glass’s decade at the helm of Lion was marked by the disruptive purchase of Emerson’s in 2012, a move which shook up the craft beer sector in New Zealand. Lion followed that by buying Panhead Custom Ales in 2016, when the brand was only three years old. They paid $15 million up front with another $10m tied to performance in the subsequent 10 years.
Lion Group CEO Stuart Irvine paid tribute to Glass.
“Rory has achieved many great results in his time leading Lion; the business has consistently been in growth, and he has led the acquisition of craft breweries Emerson’s, Panhead, and Harrington’s and of coffee business Havana, and built Little Creatures Hobsonville Point,” Irvine said.
“He has also led the NZ business through significant events such as the Christchurch earthquake, a significant Cyber-attack and Covid-19.”
The Christchurch earthquake hit Lion hard, with their brewery in the city destroyed.
“His focus on culture has seen the NZ business consistently ranked in the top decile globally for engagement, and his passion for innovation and experimentation were displayed in his leadership of the Lion Growth Hub, which has set the customer experience, digital and innovation agenda for Lion into the future. We thank Rory for his years of leadership of the business and we wish him all the very best for the future.”
Earlier this year Lion axed 30 jobs in New Zealand – about 3 per cent of its workforce – as part of an internal structure.
At the time, the company said it had “reduced a number of roles” as part of plans to “reshape the business” as a result of disruption from the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent closures of hospitality venues. The job cuts affected those in sales and administration divisions.
Lion employs about 1000 staff in New Zealand. According to the company’s website, it generates “$818 million worth of economic activity for the country”.
Its leading mainstream brands in New Zealand are Steinlager and Speight’s.