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SABMiller fuels strategy to target women with entry into craft beer market

Drinks giant SABMiller – maker of lagers such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell – has tapped into the growing British craft beer market with the purchase of Meantime Brewing Company.

The acquisition includes Meantime’s on-trade estate including the Tasting Rooms and the Greenwich Union pubs as well as the pop-up Beerbox. It also includes the Brewery Fresh tank beer concept, which is now in 26 pubs across London, complementing SABMiller’s Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised tank beer in a further four London pubs.

Meantime intends to open a pilot brewery that will become a centre for SABMiller’s European innovation and product development. The craft brewer will continue to run under the leadership of its chief executive Nick Miller.

The deal is expected to be completed early next month when Meantime will be incorporated into SABMiller Europe’s accounts.The financial terms of the transaction have not been disclosed.

The acquisition comes as part of a wider overhaul to SABMiller’s proposition to better target the female demographic of beer drinkers. Last year, the brewer acknowledged that the overhaul will take time, but said it aims to capitalise on previous efforts such as strengthening its core lager brands and expanding its portfolios into new areas like flavoured beers and ciders.

“Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement in the UK and brews an outstanding range of beers across a variety of styles,” explained Sue Clark, managing director, SABMiller Europe.

“Meantime’s expertise will boost our strategy to develop beers that appeal to more people, including women, and which can be attractive alternatives to wine and spirits.”

Meantime was created by Alastair Hook in Greenwich, London, in 1999. The business has since created a range of British and international beers including its leading brands London Pale Ale and London Lager, which together account for around 70 per cent of the brewer’s total volumes.

Last year, sales at Meantime grew by 58 per cent, outpacing the UK beer market’s one per cent growth during the same period.

Clark added: “We love local variety, and carefully nurture our 200 local and heritage beers. Meantime, born in a city with a rich beer heritage, will be a special new addition to the SABMiller family.”

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