AUSTRALIA: Cooper's plans $16m expansion

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Niche marketing and a legal loophole have enabled Australia's last family owned brewery to fund an A$33.5m (US$16.75m) new brewery expansion, relocation and expand export markets.

Cooper's, based in Adelaide, South Australia, claims to be the world's largest producer of home-brew kits. Marketing director Glenn Cooper told the kits were now sold in 26 markets worldwide as well as within Australia.

Sales are strongest in countries with high alcohol taxes. Since home brew is not at the time of purchase alcoholic, it does not attract the tax or excise.

As a private company Cooper's does not publish accounts but managing director Bill Cooper said sales last year topped $A100m and top brands were growing at 25-30% annually. It produces a range of ales and stout.

It has just secured an order for 90,000 cases of 750ml bottles of ale to Taiwan. Its latest innovation is a Special Old Stout being marketed like vintage wine as deliberately matured. Glenn Cooper said no bottle was sold without at least six months' maturation.

He said that since the stout's release three months ago demand had had kept pace with production and was strongest - it is not exported - on Australia's eastern seaboard.

The company is moving in stages to its new facility from a mildly improbable location in a leafy, prestige residential suburb to an industrial area near Adelaide.

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