The deal with brand owner Asia-Pacific Breweries, which is part-owned by S&N UK parent company Heineken, will come as a huge blow, however, to current distributor Tiger Beer UK, which had generated rapid growth for the brand in recent years.
Premium beer Tiger was the company’s first brand and remains the biggest, though it also distributes New Zealand-brewed Monteith’s beer, Tesco-listed Viru from Estonia and the French beer Desperados.
A Tiger Beer UK spokeswoman stressed that only the Tiger brand, which moves to Scottish & Newcastle on 2 March, was leaving the portfolio.
But Paul Baxendale, director of Brand Independence, the UK-based owner of Viru, which moved to Tiger Beer UK last summer, said he was considering a “number of options” for the future of his brand. “We are disappointed because the Tiger people have done an excellent job in the short time Viru’s been there,” he said.
A spokesman for Tiger Beer UK said plans for the future “were being discussed with staff on an individual basis”.
Nielsen figures for the year to October 4 indicated Tiger’s off-trade sales were up 9% on the previous year.
Jonathan Townsend, S&N’s director of speciality brands, claimed the switch would enable Tiger “to realise its massive potential”.