SABMiller increases challenge to Heineken

SABMiller increases challenge to Heineken

SABMiller is seeking to take market share from rival Heineken in the Dutch brewer's own backyard by launching Pilsner Urquell in the Netherlands.

The 4.4% abv Czech beer is to be sold at premium prices in selected bars, restaurants and specialist retailers in the country, SABMiller said yesterday (14 July).

The move increases SABMiller's direct challenge to Heineken in its domestic market.

Heineken has a 47% share of the Netherlands beer market, but saw volume sales in the country fall by 6.4% in 2009 due to declines for both its Heineken and Amstel brands.

SABMiller has a 12% share of the Dutch market, mostly thanks to its acquisition of Grolsch for EUR816m (US$1bn) in early 2008.

It performed better than Heineken in 2009, reporting a decline of just 2% in domestic lager sales by volume within a beer market that has been hit by heavy discounting in the off-trade.

Pilsner Urquell will be imported to the Netherlands from SABMiller's subsidiary in the Czech Republic, Plzenský Prazdroj. 

"There is an emerging group of consumers looking for new but authentic brands offering something different," said Petr Dvorak, SABMiller's global brand director for Pilsner Urquell.