Heineken sees Tesco "reset" reduce brand availability in UK

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The UK arm of Heineken has confirmed to just-drinks that Tesco has pulled a swathe of its beer and cider SKUs from stores across the country.

Heineken 0.0, launched in the UK earlier this year, is not affected by Tescos SKU trimming

Heineken 0.0, launched in the UK earlier this year, is not affected by Tesco's SKU trimming

Trade magazine The Grocer said earlier this week that the retailer has "taken an axe" to several brands in Heineken's portfolio, reducing the number of Heineken-owned SKUs from 53 to 22, in what the publication called a "major reset". The story was followed by claims by the Daily Mail that Heineken is being "punished" for "threatening to increase prices because of Brexit".

In confirming the Grocer report to just-drinks, a spokesperson for Heineken declined to give further specific details. "We don't comment on commercial arrangements with our customers," the spokesperson said. "Shoppers will continue to find a broad range of our beer and cider brands in Tesco."

No-one was available at the retailer when contacted yesterday.

Meanwhile, the brewer's recently-released alcohol-free variant, Heineken 0.0, will be available in Tesco's stores.

just-drinks understands that among the brands no longer available at Tesco are Amstel, Kingfisher, Sol and Tiger. The rest of the stable, including brand Heineken, is understood to still be available, although in a reduced SKU range.

The news comes almost 18 months after Carlsberg suffered a similar fate in Tesco's outlets. The retailer's decision to "discontinue a number of Carlsberg products in our stores and online" led to the departure of Carlsberg UK's CEO, James Lousada, a week later.

just-drinks says...

Much as this week's developments ape the circumstances that befell Carlsberg in 2015, Heineken is in no way as deep a pickle as the Danish brewer was. The SKU reduction from 53 to 22 looks severe, but consider that Carlsberg saw its presence in Tesco cut to just four-packs of brand Carlsberg in cans. Also, that Heineken 0.0 will be on Tesco's shelves is telling.

To us, this looks more like a retailer reviewing its beer offering than a storm in a Brexit cup. That said, Heineken would likely not be too upset if the Europa League football competition - of which Amstel is a headline sponsor - were to lose its remaining English team, Manchester United, in the next round.

Sectors: Beer & cider, The off-trade

Companies: Heineken

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