Kirin Brewery Co is continuing with talks to find a partner to help it expand in the Chinese market. The Japanese brewer was reported as long ago as November last year to be in discussions with potential Chinese partners, as it looks to shift its focus abroad.

Kazuhiro Sato, Kirin's managing director, was quoted yesterday (30 November) by Reuters saying: "We reckon China is an important market. We want to speed up our advance. But it's a difficult market. It's a tough place to make profits.

"We are already negotiating with possible partners," he added without elaborating.

He went on to say that the brewing industry could expect to see 7% growth a year from China for another five years, despite it already being the world's largest market.

Last year, Kirin set up a holding company in Shanghai to oversee its Chinese business called Kirin (China) Investment. The business heads its three regional units in north, east and south China.

"The price range has remained very low in China. If we make the advance without having our brands known, we'd suffer large losses, squeezed by the marketing costs and the prices," Sato said.