Champion brewery 8 Wired up for sale – RNZ

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An 8 Wired beer.

An 8 Wired beer.
Photo: 8 Wired / supplied

New Zealand’s reigning champion brewery, 8 Wired, is up for sale.

The Warkworth-based craft brewery was crowned the overall winner at the New Zealand Beer Awards in August 2023, a title it also won in 2011 when it was based in Blenheim.

Owner and head brewer, Søren Eriksen, said the decision to put the brewery up for sale was not an easy one for him and wife Monique, but they decided it was time to put their family first.

“We’ve spent 15 years of our lives on 8 Wired now, and obviously we want to do the best for the company but also for us personally,” Eriksen said.

“It’s a matter of gaining some freedom in the future more than anything. We’d like to go travelling with our children before they’re too old, and we just can’t do that if we have the business here as well.”

But he said selling 8 Wired was the best thing for the business itself too.

“We feel we’ve taken it as far as we can, and we want to pass the mantle on to someone with more skill in driving the business to the next level.”

8 Wired currently brews about 500,000 litres of beer each year, which Eriksen estimated made it among the top 15-20 producers in New Zealand.

The company has a brewery in Warkworth, and a barrel ageing facility and taproom in nearby Matakana, which were all being sold together as one entity.

New Zealand’s beer industry has been going through a tough time of late, with the sector facing huge excise tax hikes and increased ingredient costs due to high inflation, along with beer consumption declining.

Several high-profile breweries have downsized, closed or been forced to sell over the past 12 months due to the difficult economic climate.

Eriksen said the industry has been doing it tough since Covid-19, which has taken a mental toll on him and his wife, but that was not behind the decision to sell. He admitted the current economic climate could make selling 8 Wired tougher, though.

“Of all the 15 years we’ve been in business, this is probably the worst time to try and sell the brewery, [but] there’s never a perfect time for a thing like this and from a personal perspective, we just want to get the ball rolling.

“We imagine this process will take two or three years before we’re fully out of it – I expect it’ll take at least six months to make a sale. Then I’m prepared to stay on for a year or two after that because we want to pass it on to the right people, and we need to give them the support they need to carry it on.”

Eriksen said they were also open to offers of a majority sale, with he and Monique keen to keep a minority stake in the company.

He said no price expectation had been set, because with much of the company’s value in the 8 Wired brand itself, it was difficult to put a price on it.

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