Rob Murray joins Hawke’s Brewing Co.

08 November, 2019 by Andy Young

Rob Murray the Metcash Chairman and former Global CEO of Lion has joined Hawke’s Brewing Co, the independently-owned beer company that was launched by the late former Prime Minister, Bob Hawke in 2017.

Hawke’s was founded by David Gibson and Nathan Lennon and Lennon told TheShout that the appointment came about after they met Murray through the connection to Hawke and he offered “some advice from afar”.

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We initially didn’t expect Rob to come on in an official capacity. We’d hoped that we could occasionally seek his advice in some kind of mentor capacity. But after a few more catch-ups, Rob started talking about Hawke’s in terms of ‘we’ instead of ‘you’. It became clear that he felt invested in the journey.

“Rob loved that David and I had given up everything to get this business off the ground and I think, like us, he also wanted to help look after Bob’s legacy. It’s a personal thing for all of us. We’re making decisions from the heart just as much as the head.”

Lennon said he was looking forward to Murray bringing “a ‘top-down’ viewpoint, backed by an obvious wealth of experience in the beer game,” to Hawke’s. He added: “David and I are still in the weeds of the business, wearing multiple hats, and even still out on the road doing sales calls. So it’s important to have someone of Rob’s calibre who can stand back from afar and see the things we can’t.”

Lennon told TheShout that in terms of growth Hawke’s has more than doubled its volume in the past year and that even through winter every month has eclipsed the last.

He said: “We’re still brewing up at Hope Estate, which has allowed us to find our feet in other areas of the business but it’s also limited our ability to take things to the next level with our own facility. We’re encouraged by the fact that things are moving along as well as they are, despite not having that piece of the puzzle in place just yet.

“We’ve been looking for a site [for the brewery] for some time. How do you find and build a home worthy of Bob Hawke’s legacy, while making absolute sense for our brand and business, now and in the future? It doesn’t happen overnight and the goalposts are incredibly narrow. But we’re getting close. We’re going to open something in 2020.”

Lennon said that Murray’s experience with Lion will be “priceless” during this part of the company’s expansion.

“Rob knows what makes great breweries tick,” Lennon told TheShout.

“He was a part of the success of Little Creatures and bringing them over to Geelong. He knew that business and brand intimately. So his experience on this part of the journey is priceless.

“Like us, Rob knows how important it is to create a home for your brand and offer people that ‘epiphany moment’ when they visit. We also have other consultants with wonderful hospitality experience jumping in and out of the process.

“David and I came into this thing knowing one thing and that’s that we know nothing. So surrounding ourselves with good people is paramount. Bob built one of the greatest cabinets in political history when he was PM. So we’re trying to take a leaf out of that book.”

Speaking about joining the Hawke’s team, Murray said: “I knew Bob well, having worked with him on the board of the Bestest charity for over a decade. This is a rare opportunity to work with David, Nathan and the Hawke’s team and help them achieve success in Bob’s name, in a market that I am passionate about.”

Hawke’s Brewing Co remains a 100 per cent Australia-owned and operated company. The company has a foundation partnership with Landcare Australia, with contributions from its beer sales helping to raise awareness and provide financial support for Landcare projects throughout the country. Mr Hawke held no financial interest in Hawke’s Brewing Co., instead opting to have his benefit donated to support the company’s partnership with Landcare Australia.