Diageo will cease to produce and distribute Budweiser and Bud Light in Ireland. Instead production will be moved to the UK. C&C Group and Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I announced today that the No.#1 drinks distributor to the UK and Ireland hospitality sectors will take over from 01 July 2020 the exclusive distribution of both brands on the island of Ireland. Because AB InBev has no own breweries in Ireland, the company will transfer production to two of its own breweries in Magor, South Wales and Samlesbury, Lancashire in England which already brew Bud and Bud Light for the British market. Kegging of the imported beer will happen at C&C’s facility in Co. Tipperary, Ireland - where the company chiefly makes Bulmers cider, the leading Irish cider brand.
Since 2009 C&C, has distributed part of the Budweiser Brewing Group’s wider portfolio - including Stella Artois, Beck’s, Corona, Leffe and Hoegaarden - in Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Since December 2016, an extended distribution agreement provides that AB InBev is responsible for the sale and trade marketing of C&C’s cider portfolio in England, Wales, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, including on and off-trade national accounts. In addition, both firms confirmed the existing contract brewing arrangements whereby C&C continues brewing, kegging, bottling and canning certain AB InBev products, including Stella Artois at C&C’s Wellpark Brewery in Glasgow.
Besides Bulmers, C&C Group is the owner of Tennent's, the leading Scottish beer brand; Magners the premium international cider brand and distributes a range of craft ciders and beers, such as Heverlee, Menabrea and Orchard Pig. C&C Group has own brand and contract manufacturing/packing operations in Co. Tipperary, Ireland; Glasgow, Scotland; and Vermont, United States, where it manufactures Woodchuck, a leading craft cider brand in the United States.
Operating under the Matthew Clark, Bibendum, Tennent's and C&C Gleeson brands, the C&C Group supplies over 35,000 pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels in the UK and Ireland, and is a key route-to-market for major international beverage companies. C&C Group also has a minority investment in the Admiral Taverns tenanted pub group, which owns over 1,000 pubs across England and Wales and exports its Magners and Tennent's brands to over 60 countries worldwide.
A Diageo spokesman said it did not anticipate job losses at its St James’s Gate brewery in Dublin as the brewery pivots to increased production of other lager brands. It "will present an opportunity for Diageo to focus on growing our own newer wholly owned brands, such as Rockshore and Hop House 13, whilst also focusing on our important business with Carlsberg", the spokesman said.
Diageo Ireland country director Oliver Loomes stated, "Budweiser Brewing Group and their team have been fantastic partners over the years and I am proud of the work we have done together to build Budweiser into one of the most successful beer brands in Ireland. We will of course continue to brew, market and distribute Budweiser until the end of June and wish the team at Budweiser Brewing Group the very best in the future as they forge ahead with their plans."
Tom McCusker, Managing Director of C&C Group Ireland, commented: “This agreement marks an exciting new phase in our partnership with Budweiser Brewing Group. With a portfolio of some of the world’s most iconic beer brands, we look forward to optimising the portfolio and distribution strengths of our two businesses for the benefit of our mutual customers across Ireland”.
Paula Lindenberg, President, Budweiser Brewing Group said: “We are happy to announce today that we’re strengthening our relationship with C&C Group, who is already a close, strategic partner for us. This deal, part of our wider expansion strategy, will utilise C&C’s expertise across Ireland to bring our loved brands, now under one unified portfolio, to even more customers and consumers. As we look to the future, we’ll be working closely to ensure a smooth transition to our customers, and we are hugely grateful to Diageo for a positive working relationship over the years.”