SABMiller has announced the formation of a new operating company in the UK. Miller Brands (UK) Ltd will manage the sales, marketing and distribution of Pilsner Urquell, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draft and Castle Lager in the country.

Around GBP30m is to be invested in the company during the first two years in a bid to boost the market share for its four key premium brands in the UK market.

The London-based brewer has reached an agreement with rival Scottish & Newcastle (S&N) to transfer the marketing and distribution rights for Miller Genuine Draft to Miller Brands in January 2006. As part of that deal, S&N will transfer back the distribution rights for Peroni Nastro Azzurro to Miller Brands in the off-trade. S&N will continue to brew Miller Genuine Draft under licence, however.

"We have an exciting portfolio of well known international brands that we believe has strong growth potential in the UK," said managing director of Miller Brands, Gary Whitlie. "Our investment of GBP30m demonstrates our commitment to this market and we are determined to bring a fresh approach to satisfying the needs of our customers and consumers.

"This is a premium brand business which will leverage our considerable global experience in building profitable beer brands."

The formation of Miller Brands, which is to be based at SABMiller House in Woking, will create 35 jobs. Distribution of Pilsner Urquell, Castle Lager and Peroni Nastro Azzurro (on-trade) will begin from October.