The Royal Unibrew Group, Denmark's second-largest brewing group after Carlsberg, made an announcement today regarding its agreement to acquire the San Giorgio di Nogaro plant in the Udine province from Birra Castello s.p.a.
Birra Castello is an Italian brewing company with two production plants: one near its headquarters in San Giorgio di Nogaro and the other, the Fabbrica in Pedavena, in the municipality of the same name in the province of Belluno.
In 2021, Birra Castello sold a total of 1.35 million hectoliters. Out of this, approximately 800,000 hl of beer were produced in San Giorgio di Nogaro, and the remaining more than half a million hectoliters were produced in Pedavena.
While the plant in San Giorgio di Nogaro will be sold, the second brewery in Padavena will remain with Birra Castello and will be upgraded to allow production of the company’s brands.
Birra Castello was founded in 1997 when Heineken was obliged to sell its Birra Moretti production plant in San Giorgio di Nogaro due to accusations of having a dominant position in the Italian beer market. In 2003,Beverage Network formerly known as Beverage Service Europe Group, a national consortium of beverage distributors based in Bergamo/Italy, and already among the shareholders for some time, increased its participation and became the majority shareholder of Birra Castello. Subsequently, in 2006, Birra Castello acquired its second brewery in Pedavena which was about to be closed by the former owner Heineken.
The acquisition of the San Giorgio di Nogaro plant by Royal Unibrew, which is estimated to have a potential production capacity of up to 1 million hectoliters of beer per year, is expected to significantly bolster the company's production and packaging capabilities for cans and glass bottles in Italy, as stated by Royal Unibrew. Equipped with two filling lines, this facility will strengthen the group's presence in Italy and enable it to meet the growing demand for its products both domestically and internationally.
This new investment in Italy adds to Royal Unibrew's previous acquisition of Terme di Crodo in 2018 (inside.beer, 10.1.2019). The Terme di Crodo plant, formerly owned by Campari Group, produces Royal Unibrew's local soft drinks: Lemonsoda, Oransoda, and Lemonsoda Energy Activator.
The latest acquisition, as well as the acquisition of Terme di Crodo before, seamlessly fits into a remarkable series of company purchases made by Royal Unibrew in recent years, including Bev.Con, a marketer of energy drinks to the Danish market (inside.beer, 29.6.2018), France based craft lemonade producer Etablissements Geyer Fréres (also in 2018), Canadian craft brewerAmsterdam Brewery Co. (inside.beer, 15.7.2022); Hansa Borg Bryggerier from Norway (inside.beer, 7.1.2022); Swedish import company Solera Beverage Group (September 2021); Bryggeriet S. C. Fuglsang including its non-alcoholic subsidiary Mineralvandsfabrikken Frem (inside.beer, 18.6.2021), and most recently, Copenhagen-based microbrewery Nørrebro Bryghus (inside.beer, 6.1.2023).
Jan Ankersen, Senior Vice President South Europe and General Manager Italy of Royal Unibrew, expressed his satisfaction with the acquisition, emphasizing its importance in driving the company's continuous growth in Italy and improving its capacity to meet the rising demand for beverages through increased production. This strategic expansion is expected to provide robust support to Royal Unibrew's business in Italy and beyond, easing production constraints across the Group. The enhanced manufacturing setup will offer greater flexibility, quicker response times, and improved supply chain management, ultimately benefiting customers in all markets, according to the manager.
Eliano Verardo, Managing Director of Birra Castello, commented on the deal, stating that the Royal Unibrew Group is a trustworthy buyer with a comprehensive development plan that aligns with the local community and ensures job continuity. The sale is not expected to have any negative impact on employment, which is a crucial element for the agreement's success. As a result of the transaction, there will be increased investments in innovation and development at the remaining Pedavena plant, allowing for a stronger focus on distributing the group's brands, which have consistently shown sales growth.