DB Breweries is eyeing Europe as a potentially lucrative market for its Monteith's beer brand.

New Zealand's second-largest brewer after Lion - whose products include DB Export, Tui and Double Brown - is looking for ways to drive sales and profit in a highly competitive market in which overall beer consumption is dropping.

Andy Routley, who took over as managing director in March, replacing long-serving boss Brian Blake, said increasing exports was one part of DB's growth strategy.

There was an opportunity for Monteith's in countries such as Belgium, the Netherlands and Britain and DB wanted to launch the brand - primarily in the on-premise market initially - in Europe in the next six to nine months, he said.


DB's parent company, Singapore-based Asia Pacific Breweries, became a wholly owned subsidiary of Dutch brewer Heineken following a takeover last year and will be renamed Heineken Asia Pacific next month.

DB could take advantage of the distribution channels Heineken already has in place in Europe, Routley said. He said European consumers would like to hear the story behind Monteith's, whose roots on the South Island's West Coast stretch back to 1868.

"It's New Zealand's most successful craft beer brand," he said. "Who wouldn't want to hear about that?"

There are, of course, the staunch beer aficionados who say Monteith's is mass-produced and can't claim to be a craft brand. Routley said that argument was a "debate rather than a science".

"Monteith's comes out of our own craft environment down in the Greymouth brewery, predominantly," he said. "We believe we have a 27 per cent share of the craft segment, primarily through Monteith's."

DB, whose total sales reached $465.7 million last year, is already exporting Monteith's, DB Export and Old Mout cider to Australia.