Heineken NV’s recent introduction of Sol Mexican lager to South Africa forms part of a plan to boost its market share in a country dominated by soon-to-be-acquired SABMiller Plc.
The Dutch brewer brought Sol to South Africa this month and plans to add more premium brands there, country head Ruud van den Eijnden said in a recent interview. Growth will also be achieved through established brands such as Heineken, Amstel and Windhoek, he said.
“South Africans love premium beers, with 39% drinking them on a regular basis,” van den Eijnden said. South Africans spent more than 103 billion rand ($7.1 billion) buying beer in 2015, an increase of 9.1% from a year earlier, according to researcher Euromonitor International.
Heineken took full control of its South African operations in April, after dissolving a joint venture with Diageo Plc. Its share of South Africa’s beer market has remained at about 10% over the last five years, dwarfed by SABMiller’s 80%. SAB’s imminent takeover by Anheuser-Busch InBev NV will give the brewer access to more global brands and make competition even more intense, van den Eijnden said.
“SABMiller is already a formidable competitor,” he said. “Its new parent company has even more financial firepower than SAB, so, in that sense, I think competition will intensify.”
Heineken has added 300 jobs in South Africa this year, with 95% of these in its sales department, doubling its local sales team, van den Eijnden said. That has improved its ability to stock shelves and increase product sold, he said.
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