Europeans To Get A Taste Of Brewed-In-Italy Super Dry Next Year
Asahi Group Holdings will ramp up sales of its top-selling Super Dry beer in Europe with local production aided by faster integration of last year’s $11 billion purchase of brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Japan’s largest brewer will produce Super Dry in Padua, Italy, starting this month and sell the premium brand in Italy and the UK by January, President Akiyoshi Koji said in an interview on Thursday. Koji had previously expected sales to begin in 2019.
Asahi sees overseas sales of Super Dry in Europe and other markets outside of China, Hong Kong and the US almost doubling to 11 million cases within five years on distribution efficiencies.
The Padua factory is part of the European assets acquired last year.
“I tried the beer there before production began, and the taste was the same as in Japan,” Koji, 65, said at the brewer’s headquarters in Tokyo.
Asahi is reaping benefits after strengthening its foothold in the European beer market with last year’s purchase of brands that catapulted them to become the third-biggest brewer on the continent. The Japanese company has been stepping up expansion overseas as demand at home wanes and local competition with rivals like Kirin Holdings Co. intensifies.
The company is targeting 35% to 36% of its total operating profit to come from overseas within five to six years, up from a forecast of 31% for 2017. In August, Asahi raised its full-year profit forecast by 15% based on contributions from its European acquisitions as well as better-than-expected performance in its soft drinks and food businesses.
Buying into Europe is part of Asahi’s plan to become a global premium beer company. Asahi in March completed the purchase of the beer business previously owned by SABMiller, including the popular Czech beer Pilsner Urquell in Central and Eastern Europe. SABMiller was taken over by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Last year, Asahi completed the acquisition of Peroni and some other beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev.
Koji said Asahi would start selling Pilsner Urquell and Peroni in Japan next year.
The Japanese company has been shedding some assets to pay for its acquisitions. In June, Asahi said it’s selling its remaining stake in a joint venture with Tianjin-based Tingyi Cayman Islands Holding Corp. Asahi also hired Morgan Stanley to advise on the potential sale of its 20% holding in Tsingtao Brewery Co. Koji reiterated the company will decide what to do about the stake by the end of this year.
Asahi’s shares rose 0.3% to close at 4,539 yen in Tokyo on Thursday. The stock has climbed 23% this year, compared with a 9.9% gain in Japan’s benchmark Topix index.