How Asahi Beverages cultivated one culture under one roof

The drinks company turned to WeWork to get a central location for its combined teams in the heart of Sydney

The Asahi Beverages office at WeWork 66 King Street in Sydney. Photographs by Brad Hunter at Salty Dingo

When Japanese-owned Asahi Beverages acquired Australia’s biggest brewer Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) in 2020, it created Oceania’s leading beverages company. Its multi-beverage portfolio ranges from Australia’s favorite beers, such as Great Northern and VB, to soft drinks, sports drinks, water, orange juice, coffee, and more. Today, the company has about 4,500 employees who work within the company’s three business divisions in Australia and New Zealand, manufacturing, distributing, and marketing drinks throughout the region.

“We set ourselves [up] in the market as a multi-beverage organization, with a range of products appropriate for drinking in the morning to nighttime drinks,” says Roz Lever, Asahi Beverages group chief people and corporate affairs officer. “Our mission is to bring enjoyment and connection to everyday moments.”

One way to help fulfill that mission, executives felt, was to bring employees together in one location. That’s where WeWork came in. The WeWork team helped the combined Asahi Beverages and CUB teams to upgrade its existing WeWork space to one that’s more than double the size in the center of Sydney. 

The challenge: Bringing the Asahi Beverages and CUB teams together 

CUB had already been WeWork members at WeWork 100 Harris St. in Sydney since 2018, and it had just extended its WeWork partnership for 24 months before its acquisition. “CUB had a sales team sitting in Pyrmont [a suburb on the fringe of the Sydney CBD]. But the existing Asahi Beverages sales team was located at a manufacturing facility in Huntingwood,” explains John Tortora, Asahi Beverages group chief procurement and sustainability officer. 

A full-floor office helped bring the teams at Asahi Beverages together in one central location.

“We needed to find a better way to collaborate and be closer to our customers and also have a presence in a central spot,” he says.  

The company was also thinking about the changing nature of work and how to merge the two companies’ cultures now that they were one entity. Executives felt a new, centralized space would entice people to return to the office and help attract top talent. “We wanted to create a place that’s the destination of choice in this flexible working environment that we have,” Tortora says. That’s when CUB asked its WeWork partners about upgrade options.

The solution: Relocating to a larger WeWork space in Sydney’s central business district 

WeWork identified the perfect new office to suit the needs of Asahi Beverages. It involved relocating the CUB team from its WeWork 100 Harris Street site to a dedicated full-floor office at WeWork 66 King Street, which is more than double the size of the original office. Located in Sydney’s CBD (central business district), the office is accessible by multiple forms of public transportation, including train and bus, adds Tortora. “People say it’s easy to get to work,” he says.  

It’s such a beautiful space. It’s kind of like a second home, and we feel really welcome there. That’s the thing we really love about our WeWork space in Sydney.

Roz Lever, group chief people and corporate affairs officer at Asahi Beverages

The existing Asahi Beverages team in Sydney left their offices at the Huntingwood manufacturing site so they could also move into the new WeWork floor and create one Asahi Beverages culture. “We’ve got two teams coming together who have not met one another before—even though we worked for the same business. And the office space, the way it’s designed and the way it’s laid out, automatically encourages collaboration,” Tortora says.

The open design of the WeWork space makes collaboration and connection easy for all. “Everyone can see one another,” says Tortora. “It really gives a sense of belonging.” 

Having a beautiful, state-of-the-art location was a huge benefit to the business. “I think there’s a really good marriage between the WeWork space and how we present ourselves out in the market,” Lever says. 

The result: A collaborative, flexible space where Asahi Beverages can grow its culture

Moving the teams to the larger WeWork office has already helped Asahi Beverages reduce its overall real estate footprint and costs. But the company still has the opportunity to scale up as needed. 

To develop its culture, Asahi Beverages has been adding more of its own branding to the space. “As we’re now getting more comfortable [here], there’s a lot more branding that’s gone up…that’s making it feel like home,” says Tortora. 

The rooftop terrace at WeWork 66 King Street in Sydney is the perfect spot for a team happy hour.

The plan is to use the space to host more meetings, meet with customers, and increase brand awareness. One key feature helping on that front: the rooftop, which Tortora calls “the X factor.” 

“We are a beverage company, so we are all about putting drinks in people’s hands. Now we can bring our customers to a central location, up to a rooftop, get amazing views of the Sydney CBD, enjoy a beverage, and really create an experience,” he says.

The space also comes with a bespoke mobile bar bench, so the combined Asahi Beverages team can more easily rotate new beers for their employees and their clients to enjoy.

Tortora is grateful for the additional benefits the company gets by being in a WeWork location. “WeWork is in the background providing all this great support and memberships to other offices and great locations,” he says. “We would never be able to offer that flexibility had we been in a standardized leased office.”

Lever agrees: “It’s such a beautiful space. It’s kind of like a second home, and we feel really welcome there. That’s the thing we really love about our WeWork space in Sydney.”

Dawn Papandrea is a freelance writer who covers work, personal finance, and higher education. Her writing has appeared in numerous outlets, including Family Circle and Follow her on Twitter.

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