Doyen of the Australian brewing industry Bill Cooper is stepping down as managing director of the family owned business, Coopers, after a career spanning 42 years.

Cooper, 69, combined announcement of his retirement with news that the brewery is to resume major export marketing following its move to its new A$33.5m (US$16.7m) premises in Adelaide last month.

Cooper, who will remain a non-executive member of the board, will be succeeded in February as managing director by his son Dr Tim Cooper while another family member, Glenn Cooper, will become executive chairman.

Looking back over his career Bill Cooper said that a century ago there were 44 Australian breweries. Today there just four and Coopers was the only one in family ownership.

Until its move to the new brewery major exports had to be suspended - though home brew kits remained a major overseas product - so the company could meet domestic demand.

The brewery produces 45 batches of 500 hectolitres a week. Apart from home brew, its best-known product is a slightly (and deliberately) cloudy Sparkling Ale, which has a cult following in Australia and abroad.