Ireland: Spanish brewer Estrella Galicia buys stake in leading craft brewer

Hijos de Rivera, maker of the Estrella Galicia beer and Maeloc cider and with approximatley 1.8 million hectoliters (2014) fourth largest brewer in Spain, has snapped 32% of Ireland’s leading craft brewer Carlow Brewing Co. from Bagenalstown, 100 kilometers southwest of Dublin/Ireland.

The founders will retain their controlling majority shareholding and leadership of the company and the investment will enable the company to offer a return on investment to its original group of minority shareholders as well as benefit from Hijos de Rivera’s established distribution channels and networks, aiding the development of new and existing export markets, the company said in a press statement.

Two years ago, the 110 year old family owned Spanish brewer became the Spanish distributor of the Irishmen. Over the last 24 months the two companies’ shared visions, family heritage, and dedication to producing quality beers paved the way for the investment which was officially agreed in early April, the press statement read.

Carlow Brewing Company, also known as O’Hara’s Brewery was established in 1996 and “lucky enough to be at the forefront of craft brewing in Ireland for over twenty years,” according to Seamus OHara, CEO of Carlow Brewing Company. “Our growth in recent years has given us the opportunity to offer a return to investors who have been a huge support to our business from the start. It has not been easy to get to this point. We have overcome a lot of challenges and obstacles along the way but some remain. The opportunity to work with Hijos de Rivera, a progressive, family owned and independent brewery with a long tradition of brewing under the Estrella Galicia brand made the most sense for us due to a shared sense of value, heritage and culture.”, the founder explained the reasoning behind the investment.

Located in the heart of Ireland’s traditional malt-growing “Barrow Valley” region that has strong historical links to the Irish brewing industry, Carlow Brewing produces a range that includes traditional Irish beers and interpretations of international beers, as well as Falling Apple Cider and Craigies Cider. The company is today Irland’s leading craft brewery and has had significant success selling domestically as well as exporting.

Ignacio Rivera, CEO of the Galician brewery, commented: “Hijos de Rivera shares many similarities with Carlow Brewing Company, both companies are pioneers with a rich family tradition and culture. Our goal isn’t to sell the most beer but to sell the beer that is most loved and valued by the consumer, and that’s why Carlow Brewing Company and Hijos de Rivera are a perfect fit as both companies are passionate about beer! I am really looking forward to working with Seamus and his team.”

Hijos de Rivera is an independent family owned Galician company which ranks no. 4 with a share of about 6% in the domestic Spanish beer markt. The company follows market leader Mahou/San Miguel (11.9m hl) as well as Heineken (10m hl) and Damm (8.3m hl, all figures from 2014). Established in 1906, the main focus of the company is brewing and distribution of beer, the best-known of which is Estrella Galicia and other premium beers like 1906 Reserva Especial,1906 Red Vintage and 1906 Black Coupage, as well as the Maeloc cider range. The company also owns a number of non-alcoholic beverage brands including Cabreiroá, Agua de Cuevas, Fontarel and Zuvit. Hijos de Rivera distributes its portfolio throughout Spain, and in countries worldwide including Brazil, Australia, China, Russia, Philippines and USA.

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