DB Breweries owner Heineken has acquired a swathe of international beer brands.
The international brewing company has acquired five beer and cider brands from Asahi Group Holdings in Australia to grow its business across the Tasman.
It has acquired Strongbow Cider, Little Green and Bonamy's cider, as well as the licence for Stella Artois and Beck's. These brands will be distributed in Australia by its wholly owned subsidiary Drinkworks, DB Breweries' Australian sales and marketing arm.
Products from these brands will not be distributed in New Zealand, however, Strongbow and others brands, excluding Beck's, will be manufactured in the country.
The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and comes after a successful bid for these brands when Asahi put them up for sale as a condition from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for their acquisition of Carlton & United Breweries.
Asahi provided a court-enforceable undertaking to the ACCC to divest the five brands.
DB Breweries managing director Peter Simons said the addition of the five new brands to the group would allow the growth to scale up its operations in Australia.
"We are delighted to add the Strongbow brand, as well as Stella Artois, Becks, Little Green and Bonamy's, to Drinkworks' existing premium beer and cider portfolio," Simons said.
"The addition of these brands will enable Drinkworks to further scale up and grow our operations in Australia, which is a very important market for us and one in which we expect future growth, particularly in the premium segment."
Financials of the deal have not been disclosed, and production start dates for local manufacture are not yet known pending ACCC approval.
Initially Drinkworks will continue to source cider brands and Stella from Asahi.
Strongbow is Heineken's leading cider brand globally and is sold in more than 40 countries. The acquisition of the Strongbow brand in Australia marks a milestone as it reunites with the global Strongbow portfolio after 17 years, which was originally sold to British brewing company Scottish & Newcastle.
Jacco van der Linden, president of Heineken Asia Pacific, said the acquisition of the new brands showed the company was focused on growth opportunities.
"We are thrilled to bring the Strongbow brand in Australia home to Heineken and scale up our beer and cider portfolio in one of the world's leading beer and cider markets. This acquisition shows that Heineken remains active in pursuing growth where we see opportunities that align with our long-term strategy."
He said the acquisition would strengthen Drinkworks' existing portfolio in Australia, which includes Tiger, Sol, Monteith's beer and cider and Orchard Thieves.
Company profits sour
Heineken earlier released its earnings for the first three quarters of 2020. It posted net profit of €396 million ($700m) in the period, down 76 per cent from last year's €1.7 billion ($3b).
Its beer volumes fell 1.9 per cent in the third quarter as a result of restaurant and bars closures through the pandemic.
The Dutch company has announced it would make large-scale job cuts as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. It said it would axe management roles in its head and regional offices by about a fifth starting in the new year.
In April, it withdrew all guidance for 2020, given the lack of visibility on the duration of the pandemic's impact. It said it had observed a recovery over summer in Europe, but continued volatility was expected for the fourth quarter, as many markets experienced a resurgence of Covid-19.
"The lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand have had a material impact on the hospitality industry, and have seen multiple forced closures. In New Zealand, sales in traditional liquor stores were also restricted for some time, meaning two out of three sales channels were closed. Through a combination of cost mitigations and relative increased sales in other channels, DB has been able to deliver strong performance in the context," the company said.
It released no financials specific to the New Zealand market.