The love was short-lived and not very passionate. Only two years after ABInBev’s venture capital division ZX Ventures acquired a minority share In Munich based craft brewery Crew Republic (inside.beer, 29.8.2019), the brewing giant now stepped out. The 20% share was sold back to the two founders Mario Hanel und Timm Schnigula at an undisclosed sum.
The German unit of the global brewing group, which took over the distribution of Crew Republic in September 2019, justified the separation with the fact that AB Inbev wanted to focus more on other market segments in its strategic alignment, namely lager beers in the premium and super premium segment. Crew Republic will take over the distribution of their craft beers again on January 1, 2022.
Apparently, the mutual goals could not be achieved. The brand was always treated as a stepchild in the huge AB InBev family, and despite price cuts, sales have slumped by around 20%. The timing of the collaboration was probably also unfortunate, because shortly after the collaboration was announced, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, which caused sales to collapse, especially in the HoReCa sector.
Co-founder Mario Hanel, however, sees the positive aspect of the cooperation. “By working together, we were able to significantly expand the availability of our craft beers beyond our home market in Munich,” he said.
Despite AB InBev's departure, Crew Republic is not alone. After it’s early start in 2011, hop merchant Barth-Haas Group acquired a minority stake and helped financing an own production site in Unterschleißheim on the direct outskirts of Munich in 2017. The brewery has a capacity of 12,000 hectoliters which is not yet fully used.