AB InBev has signed an exclusive agreement with premium luxury hospitality chain, Indian Hotels Company Ltd (IHCL) to open 15 microbreweries within the next 5 years. The world largest brewer is prepared to spend Rs 150 crore (USD 21 million) over that time span to design and build the microbreweries within 5-star luxury Taj Hotels across key locations in India.
Taj Hotels runs 84 hotels across India and 16 in other countries around the world, including USA, UK, South Africa and the UAE. It is a subsidiary of IHCL which itself is part of the Tata Group, one of India's largest business conglomerates. Under this partnership AB InBev will manage the brewing business while IHCL will run the outlets.
"We will leverage our collective strength to shape the beer category in India. While Taj will bring hospitality excellence and beautiful locations, we have a vast portfolio of craft brands globally and together, that can elevate the country's brew pub experience," Ben Verhaert, President India South Asia, AB InBev told Economic Times India.
„The agreement is to open 15 microbreweries within the next 5 years and this will basically allow us to ensure a presence in all major cities of India. The first step of us is to open the first microbrewery in the first half of next year in Bangalore. That’s the first step in our partnership,” Ben Verhaert added in an interview with CNBC. The brewery hopes to open 4 breweries by the end of 2021, according to the manager.
"With its diverse collection of over 500 beer brands, AB InBev will be involved in setting up on-site microbreweries at some of our iconic hotels; the first of which will be at Taj MG Road, Bengaluru, followed by Goa, Mumbai and Hyderabad," said Puneet Chhatwal, managing director and chief executive officer of IHCL.
AB InBev will not brew its existing beer brands, such as Budweiser, Hoegarden and Corona at the premises but rather new beer styles that are relevant to the Indian customers. Names and beer styles are not decided yet.
The announcement came only a few days after AB InBev’s successful second attempt for an IPO of its Asian business unit at Hong Kong’s stock exchange (inside.beer, 29.9.2019).