Blog #7 Lion Nathan Wines
Genealogy of the company
1840 LD Nathan, New Zealand Trading Company, formed
1900 Dairy Farmers Milk Co-operative formed
1988 Lion Nathan (LN) merged with LD Nathan and Lion Breweries
1998 Kirin acquires 45% interest in LN
2007 Kirin Group acquires National Foods
2009 Kirin Group acquires remainder of LN and forms Lion Nathan National Foods
2011 Name changed to ‘Lion’ with three operational businesses;
Lion Beer, Spirits and Wine Australia
Lion. Beer, Spirits and Wine New Zealand
Lion Dairy and Drinks
2012 Lion acquires Little World Beverages and Emersons
2012 issues a Sustainability Report covering Lion.
In 2012, Lion Beer, Spirits and Wine Australia and New Zealand reported sales of $2327million, and employed 7000 in the two countries.
The Sustainability Report characterises the pursuit of responsible sustainable growth as involving three elements: “our people; our society and our environment”
Also in 2012 Lion conducted its first ever Community Engagement Study. During the course of the study it canvassed the views of stakeholders (12 various types eg farmers and governments) on a range of topics including employment, marketing, sustainability, leadership, sociability and well being.
Corporate Policy has determined that sustainability will be included as part of overall strategy development and will remain embedded in the commercial operations rather than treated separately, as a separate staff exercise.
The ultimate responsibility for progress with this policy rests with the ‘Sustainability Leadership Group’. The Group reports to the Board, the CEO is a member as are the three Managing Directors of the different businesses, the Group Operations Director, the People and Culture Director plus 13 senior managers.
The Policy is implemented through, ‘Responsible Business Practices’ with key cultural concepts of: responsibility, ethical, long-term growth and risk management.
Resultant actions include: responsible consumption, publication of the facts and encouragement of ‘a positive drinking culture’. The company invested, during 2012, more than $4.5million, plus an unstated amount for the cost of the overheads. In total the final investment might be as high as 10% of operating profits (that were over $600million for the year). The expenditures as published were disbursed through 34 institutions/projects involving long-term national and local community partnerships and included brand initiatives as well as workplace donations (these latter spread over the causes of cancer research, relief, medical health, heart research and animals).
Clearly for Lion this is a significant program and as such reflects the Kirin Group policies that have been in place for several years.
A key positioning statement is that “alcohol misuse and consequences are a threat to the business not a benefit”. It is considered that the reasons behind any misuse are complex. Based on advice from medical and educational experts the company focus is on education and targeted intervention to change the negative aspects of the current drinking culture. Specific instances of action in support of this approach include support for education, research and cultural change programs. More specifically the company instigated the joint development of the ‘Cheers’ Website in New Zealand. This initiative was achieved with the co-operation of NZ Winegrowers, Distilled Spirits Association and the New Zealand Brewers Association. The website which is aimed at changing the habits of binge drinkers, in the first 5 days, attracted 4000 visitors and 20046 page reviews.
Progress in whatever form especially as it impacts society through public health initiatives or reduced environmental footprints, which are also part of this program, are valuable as indeed is the on-going economic contribution to society of a profitable company.
The company support for education, research and cultural change has already enjoyed a favourable initial impact through the joint development, with other sectors of the alcoholic beverages industry, that aims to address the binge drinking culture.
Let us not, however, kid ourselves. The website responses are a siren’s call rather than hard evidence of success. A review of research programs by, for example, the Centre for Alcohol Policy Research, http://www.capr.edu.au, did not elicit any information regarding policies in respect of research methodology, nor any information on databases and management. It is difficult from the published listing of research projects to determine whether it is at an equivalent stage of database and analytical experience to WHO with its supporting institutions (of which CAPR is one)!
A recent article in the New York Times suggested that there were concerns in that country that much of the educational research had failed to identify false positive and negative outcomes. The research programs in themselves, it was argued, were set up on an inadequate basis. The whole issue of research experiments reproducibility was taken a step further in an article in the Economist on October 19th 2013.
If you are interested or involved in any aspect of the above and would like to make direct contact as opposed to a comment I can be contacted on firstname.lastname@example.org