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US: Grolsch toasts the future after A-B deal

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Grolsch is expecting "significant" sales growth in the US after signing an import distribution deal with Anheuser-Busch.

Grolsch will see A-B handle its brands in the US from next January and the Dutch brewer believes it will capitalise on a greater nationwide presence.

"We want to grow significantly," a Grolsch spokesman told just-drinks today (22 February). "We're not talking about 2, 3, 4% growth a year - we want more than that."

Grolsch sells 150,000 hectolitres a year in the US but the spokesman said the brewer's current distributor, USB, "lacked the scale to take us to the next step".

He added: "A-B is the ideal partner - we will really be aiming at the entire country."

The deal marks A-B's first entry into the growing import beer segment in the US. The Budweiser brewer has seen domestic sales slump in the US as drinkers of mainstream beer brands turn to import and craft beers.

Industry analysts had said the lack of an import brand in A-B's portfolio would hold back the potential for long-term sales growth in the US.

A-B said the deal with Grolsch was part of "an aggressive push into high-end beer categories".

"Grolsch is a quality, well-known name among American beer drinkers, making it an ideal partner to begin building our import portfolio around," said A-B president August A. Busch IV.

The US import category represents around 12.4% of the total US beer market, selling 25.6m barrels in 2005, A-B said. The segment grew by about 7.2% in 2005 and has grown on average by 5% every 5 years, the company added.

A-B said it would "explore other import possibilities" but declined to give further details.


Sectors: Beer & cider

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