Wild Rose Brewery sale to Sleeman approved

New owners promise to use the same ingredients and the same Calgary water to brew the same Wild Rose recipes

Mario ToneguzziShareholders of Calgary-based Wild Rose Brewery Ltd. have approved the sale of the company to Sleeman Breweries Ltd.

The deal will be finalized on May 31. No financial details were released.

“We know that this partnership will bring a wealth of opportunities for us to succeed together as we move forward with the support of Sleeman’s resources and industry insights,” said Bill McKenzie, CEO at Wild Rose Brewery, in a news release. “We feel there is a strong connection between the way we’ve crafted our culture and the way Sleeman does business, and we are excited about our new joint vision for taking the growth of the Wild Rose brand to the next level.”

Wild Rose, which has operated since 1996, has a 40,000-square-foot brewing facility as well as its Taproom pub in the old Currie Barracks.

“We recognize that Alberta is a province with high growth potential and see a number of synergies between Wild Rose and Sleeman that make this partnership extremely exciting for both organizations,” said Jesse Hanazawa, president and CEO of Sleeman Breweries. “Not only do our businesses share a passion for craft beer, but we also share the drive to achieve industry excellence while maintaining a winning organizational culture. We look forward to working closely with the Wild Rose team to ensure both they and Sleeman are able to reap the many benefits of this strategic partnership.”

Sleeman is the third largest brewing company nationwide.

Wild Rose released the following fact sheet regarding the sale:

  1. What changes can we expect with Wild Rose beers?

Wild Rose will be using the same ingredients and the same Calgary water to brew the same Wild Rose recipes. You can expect the same beer brewed by the same people so there will be very little (if any) changes. Over time, as with any business, we will explore opportunities for improvement and make sure that both the Wild Rose and the Sleeman brands continue to grow. Regular business changes will occur based on performance and customer demand.

  1. Will Wild Rose brands now be sold outside of Alberta?

At this point, the plan is to continue to sell and focus on Wild Rose in Alberta. There is still growth opportunity in Alberta and with the progression of our new partnership with Sleeman, we are in a great position to continue to grow the brand in our home province. Expanded distribution plans are not in the immediate future, however we have received requests to sell in other provinces and we will continue to review and consider opportunities for distribution outside of Alberta in the future.

  1. Will the Taproom stay open?

Yes, the Taproom will stay open and we aren’t planning to make any changes. The Taproom will continue to be an important part of our future plans and we are able to share that an extension on our Taproom lease has been renewed.

  1. What’s the game plan for the combined company?

Sleeman’s strategy around acquisitions is BUY, HOLD, GROW. They are not planning any immediate changes and together with the Wild Rose team, a plan will be built to continue growing the Wild Rose brand. For now, no immediate changes are planned.

  1. Will Sleeman brands be brewed in Calgary at Wild Rose?

The Calgary brewery will continue to brew Wild Rose brands, there are no plans to start brewing Sleeman brands at the Calgary brewery, but we expect that the Wild Rose and Sleeman brewers will get together to share innovation ideas. The Wild Rose breweries are designed for innovation, so we look forward to sharing ideas.

  1. Why is this positive for both companies?

First, and very importantly, we see a great cultural fit between the two organizations. Alberta is a province with high growth potential for both breweries and we see this partnership as a great opportunity to leverage each other’s strengths and complementary portfolios to continue to accelerate our growth as a new organization.

  1. Has the addition of so many new breweries in the marketplace impacted Wild Rose and forced them to sell to Sleeman?

No, the growth of the craft industry has actually been positive for Wild Rose as there is now more interest than ever in the craft beer category. Wild Rose brands have risen in popularity since the craft beer boom and the brand is showing no signs of letting up.

  1. Did Wild Rose overbuild when they built the new brewery in 2013?

No, the brewery was designed to service a long-term growth plan which makes it easy to add capacity when needed.

  1. Will this create jobs?

We hope so, however that depends on growth. As the Wild Rose brand grows, more employees will be needed so hopefully our customers continue to support the brand so we can continue to hire Albertans.

  1. Will anyone lose their job?

There will be no immediate changes until all parties better understand the new business opportunities.

  1. Was Wild Rose forced to sell due to the increased competition or for any other reasons?

Wild Rose has continued to increase market share and volume since opening up its new brewery in 2013. The company has also performed very well financially which has attracted interest from potential investors and from Sleeman. The brewery was not for sale, however the opportunity to partner with Sleeman was presented to us and our shareholders made the decision to sell to Sleeman given the numerous benefits the partnership has to offer for Wild Rose employees, the brand and the community.

Mario Toneguzzi is a Troy Media business reporter based in Calgary.


Wild Rose brewery, Sleeman

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