There has been a disproportionate amount written about our decision to stop stocking Colonial Brewing Company beer, with many pieces in the media giving little backstory or context.
We understand that for many the word ‘Colonial’ seems harmless, but we had first received concern from customers about the name and its perceived connotations as far back as 2017. We finally raised these in 2019 with CBCo due to further customer concern and consultation with our staff. The communications between our two companies were, and always have been, amicable and professional. CBCo back then admitted it was not the first they had heard of it and were looking for ways to further explore and understand this point of view.
We appreciate and understand that the people behind CBCo had no malicious intent in continuing with the brand name of the business that they purchased. Colonial is still a problematic word for many that speaks to a broader history of colonialism and colonisation that has caused irreversible harm to the First Nations people in Australia and Indigenous populations around the world.
Given the current climate, and navigating a complex landscape, we thought it was best to cease stocking CBCo to respect the concerns of our customers and staff. This was not politically or PR motivated, and we were not forced to do this to appease social media commentary; assessing the suitability of products is a process that happens every day in our business (and in businesses around the world).
Once we had made our final decision, we reached out privately to inform CBCo of our choice, and the reasons why. We then let customers know solely in a response comment on a post. We didn’t personally reach out to any media outlets - instead we were approached by multiple news outlets as they began to pick it up due to others broadcasting our decision. We then responded to a few media enquiries to make sure that there was context given, but eventually decided to stop as we didn’t want to keep fuelling the fire unnecessarily.
While we appreciate the concerns raised around supporting local businesses, Colonial Brewing Co is a relatively big brewer owned by the Colonial Leisure Group, and they acknowledged to us privately as well as stating publicly that our purchasing of their stock was but a small segment of their bottom line. Our longstanding and ongoing purchasing of products from the many other local Australian breweries and businesses that we support has not decreased in any way.
We think CBCo’s beers taste great - we wouldn’t have stocked them in the first place if we didn’t. We’re continuing discussions with the company and would love to range them again should they come up with a way to mitigate the concerns surrounding their name. We have not bullied or pressured them into their current review - as outlined in their own public statements, they were already undertaking these steps.
At its core, we made the decision to remove a line of beers from our fridge to allow our stores to be a more inclusive place for our customers and staff - which is the prerogative of any business in managing their range.
This is a complex issue, and we acknowledge that there are many who feel passionate about it on both sides. We have been inundated with messages both positive and negative and we have been doing our best to respond to people but aren’t able to get back to everyone. If you are going to reach out to us with any concerns, we ask that you do so in a manner that’s considered and respectful to the people in our team - we won’t engage further with anyone who sends us abusive communications.
If you would like to read an article with input from both ourselves and CBCo on this issue, we recommend that you head on over to the article on Crafty Pint’s website.