The Crafty Pint is set to expand its operations and will introduce a print version of the magazine in early 2017. Additional staff focused on increasing advertising revenue and maximising commercial opportunities are to join the team at the end of this financial year.
This major advance for the site has become possible after The Crafty Pint agreed a deal that sees News Limited take a 51 percent stake in the business. As well as investing in taking the website beyond its current scope, News Limited will run a syndicated fortnightly column across its Australian titles written by the site's founder.
The agreement, for an undisclosed fee, follows months of negotiations and will help The Crafty Pint keep pace with the rapidly changing beer landscape in Australia.
"We are delighted to have reached an agreement with News Limited and look forward to taking the site into new territory," says Crafty Pint founder James Smith. "While the site has enjoyed substantial growth since it was launched in 2010, we felt it was time to seek additional investment to help us maximise its commercial potential."
Initially, this will see an increase in sponsored content on the site, at first in partnership with some of the major retail businesses looking to break into and help grow the craft sector with their "crafty" brands. However, with Smith remaining in position as executive director, it is a case of "business as usual", according to a statement accompanying the announcement from News Limited.
The statement added: "News Limited acknowledges that we were slow to recognise how significant the craft beer sector was to become in Australia. By taking a majority share in The Crafty Pint we are confident we can become a major player in this niche area of the beer world, just as some of our major advertisers, such as Coca-Cola, Woolworths and Coles, are doing with their growing number of beer brands, including Yenda, Yellow Tail, Steamrail, Sail & Anchor, Lorry Boys and John Boston."
The new partnership means The Crafty Pint will be able to utilise a number of staff writers at News Limited titles, reducing its reliance on passionate beer loving contributors.
And, says Smith, this is a natural progression for his business, not just because its title is "Crafty" and not "Craft".
"It's clear that this is the way the beer industry is going," he said. "A number of iconic craft beer companies have taken outside investment in recent years, both here and overseas. This has allowed them to reach greater audiences without any negative impact on their product.
"At the same time, there have been occasions when keyboard warriors have accused The Crafty Pint of a lack of independence and of being dictated to by multinational breweries or major retailers.
"Even the most cursory glance at the site would have made it abundantly clear that this was nonsense; however, it did start discussions within the Crafty team and ultimately led us to the conclusion that if people think this way – and that a partnership such as this can bring financial benefits without impacting the site negatively – then we would be foolish to miss out while corporations are spending freely to buy up the independent sector."
Update: As we're now past midday in all of Australia, we'd like to wish you all a happy April 1st. Cheers!