Heineken has acquired a minority share in craft brewer Gallia from Pantin, a commune in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, France. Gallia was a beer brand established in Paris/France in 1890 but was taken out of the market in 1969. 40 years later it was brought back to life by Guillaume Roy and his partner Jacques Ferté who turned their passion for beer into a job.
After ten years in operation, Gallia produced about 8,500 hectoliters of beer last year which were sold in between 300 and 400 outlets, mainly delicatessens or Parisian beer cellars.
Heineken is planning to more than quintuple sales to about 40,000 h of beer by investing "several million euros" in a new production site in Sucy-en-Brie, a commune in the southeastern suburbs of Paris. Production is scheduled to start in summer 2020. In order to fill the increased capacity, Gallia will make use of Heineken’s distribution network. It is planned to sell the beer also in supermarkets like Carrefour and Monoprix in the French capital.
"We will strengthen our roots in Paris, because we want, as from the beginning, to become the reference beer of the capital," says Guillaume Roy, one of the two founders of Gallia. According to the plans, the distribution will be later widened to the provinces and other parts of France.
Even after the commissioning of the new brewery, the site in Pantin will remain active. The partners use the site for experimental brewing, like ageing the beer in barrels or test spontaneous fermentation. “It will be closer to the wine. The idea is to create and impose a unique know-how in France," says Rémy Maurin, the brewmaster. These beers will be produced in limited quantities and sold in 75 cl bottles.
After being more inactive in this field, Heineken has acquired recently some minority interest in local craft brewers like Brixton Brewery (inside.beer, 28.11.2017) and Beavertown Brewery (inside.beer, 26.5.2018) both in London, UK, and Oedipus Brewing from Amsterdam, Netherlands (inside.beer, 6.6.2019).
The independence of the craft brewery and its founders seems to be the key to success. This is best assured by acquiring only a minority stake in a craft brewery.
"We were looking for a financial partner to continue to grow. Heineken came to us and appeared as a natural solution”, says Guillaume Roy. "We were pretty skeptical at first but the Heineken team reassured us that they did not want to change our philosophy or our beers."
"But we remain at the helm. The brand remains Gallia, we will keep our craftsmanship and our recipes," says Roy. And Pascal Sabrié, President of Heineken France adds: "This merger is a first in France since, to date, we will be the first major brewer to support the development of a micro-brewer in France, a new model also since, being a minority shareholder, we will let the team Gallia continue to be in charge of its brewery and its brand. "