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Kingfisher beer to be sold in 4 more countries

Sumana Guha Ray  |  Mumbai 

India's top-selling beer brand, Kingfisher will be available in markets in France, Finland, Portugal and Canada by the end of this year or early next year. Currently, the popular brew is available in UK through the distribution channel of Scottish & Newcastle (S&N), the biggest brewers in UK, France and Russia.
"Kingfisher is doing well in areas where there is an Indian cultural influence. Therefore, we think that it might strike a chord with consumers in France, Finland and Portugal in Europe and Canada. In UK, Kingfisher sells both in bottles and draught, thanks to the dominant pub culture," said John Hunt, managing director for S&N's Asian business.
Kingfisher currently sells 2.5 million cases in UK markets. Owners UB Group want to double sales in three years, said K Ganguly, president, United Breweries Limited. UB already has two breweries in UK. The contribution of overseas sales is currently not significant to UB's over sales which is over 100 million cases a year. majority sales still come from domestic sales.
"A lot of Indians are going abroad and this is helping our overseas business. They are, in a way, helping bring brand recognition to the product where it is not yet so popular," Ganguli said.
S&N itself has a huge presence in France and Portugal. The company's brand Kronenbourg is a favourite in France and is UK' in the premium lager segment. Other brands like Baltica and Sagres are popular in Portugal.
S&N had entered into a joint venture with United Breweries in 2005 with both parties holding 37.5 per cent share in the JV. Hunt feels that in the near future S&N brands will be brought into India through this joint venture. In Asia, the company also has a joint venture with Chongqing Brewery in China and has another JV in Vietnam.
The India business is still small for S&N's. This is mostly due to the low per capita beer consumption in the country. While per capita consumption in India is barely a litre, in China it is estimated to be 24 litres.
S&N's overseas business contributes under 10 per cent of its total revenues which were close to £ 60 million in the previous financial year, said Hunt.

First Published: Sat, September 01 2007. 00:00 IST
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