PLB Group has beefed up its beer division in a move aimed at upping its presence in the UK on- and off-trade.

The independent beer and wine importer and distributor said today (19 June) that it has created two new positions within its beer unit as it ramps up its efforts in the branded product arena in the country.

Mark Johnson, formerly off-trade controller at Young's Brewery, has been appointed as beer division director. The position sees him assume full responsibility for the beer team, brand growth strategy and sales for the worldwide marketplace. Prior to his eight years at Young's, Johnson also held national account positions with Allied Domecq and Remy Cointreau.

Also joining the team is Martin Howe as senior national account manager and brand manager for Palma Louca - the recently-announced Brazilian beer addition to the PLB portfolio. Howe has previously held senior national account manager roles at Wells and Young's and Greene King.

PLB took the decision to expand their beer division into the branded product market late last year. Historically an own-label and bespoke brand supplier, the company is now focusing on marketing branded premium packaged beers and ciders from Brazil, Spain, the Czech Republic and Lithuania.