Windhoek will be launched in UK in April

Windhoek will be launched in UK in April

Diageo is to launch Namibian lager Windhoek in key markets, including the UK, where the group hopes to quench consumers' growing thirst for premium imported lager.

Diageo will launch Windhoek in Kenya on 7 April, followed by Uganda and then the UK on 28 April.

The beer will be available in the UK on- and off-trade and Diageo says it is in negotiations with a number "major retailers" over where and when they will be stocked.

Diageo said that the beer will initially be targeted at South African expats living in London, who are already familiar with the brand.

Windhoek is brewed by Namibian Breweries, a family firm in which Diageo has a 15% stake. Early last year, Diageo gained the global rights to brew and distribute Windhoek outside of South Africa and Namibia.

“This is history. In the past we’ve got licenses…but this is the first time we are giving up the licence, the first time ever that we brew Windhoek larger outside of Windhoek,” said Sven Thieme, chairman of Namibia Breweries.

Thieme said the brand has already trialled in the UK for a short time, with positive results.

“Your own market is the most important market for the brand because if you haven’t got that under your belt you can’t look elsewhere, and I can tell you we are doing extremely well in Windhoek and we are already doing extremely well in South Africa, so we are very proud to bring the brand to Great Britain. The first indications are very very positive and every single person has been involved in supporting Diageo to make this a success,” Thieme said.

Nick Blazquez, managing director for Diageo Africa, said the brand has “legs” and is a launching with “some fantastic success” in the UK.

“The interest in these African beers, or beers from around the world is quite high,” he said at the opening of the firm’s ZAR3.5bn (US$473m) Sedibeng brewery in Johannesburg last week. The facility is a joint venture with Heineken.

Windhoek will focus only on the “top end” of the beer market, at a price point of around GBP4.29 for a four-pack in the off-trade.

It will be distributed in 400 Tesco stores from mid April, followed by 1,139 grocery stores by the end of June.

In the on-trade, distribution will be in "prestige bars" in key areas in five cities; Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, London, Brighton by the end of June.