Molson Coors is to take over UK distribution for its fast-growing Czech lager Staropramen from Carlsberg.

Molson Coors acquired Staropramen in 2012, but the beer is currently sold under license in the UK by Carlsberg. Molson Coors will begin making it available to its direct free-trade customers from 31 July, and will take over exclusive distribution from 28 December. Staropramen is growing at 67.6%, with sales of £15.1m [Nielsen].

“We have seen growth in the Staropramen brand throughout our European business and around the world and there is a continued appetite for world and premium beers in the UK,” said Martin Coyle, Molson Coors UK marketing director. “By bringing the Staropramen brand into the Molson Coors UK portfolio we are able to provide our customers a more comprehensive and premium drink offer.”

Carlsberg UK CEO James Lousada claimed the transfer made “excellent business sense” for his company.

“We are proud of the performance we have delivered on the Staropramen brand since we secured the licence four years ago but it represents a very small proportion of our overall sales,” he explained. “Our priority in the World Beer category is San Miguel, which has seen phenomenal volume growth over the past five years, complemented by a wider World Beer portfolio which includes Poretti and Mahou.

“With this sale concluded, we can now look to invest further to grow our current World Beer portfolio, focusing on super premium lager Mahou and Italian beer, Poretti, whilst continuing our wider focus on core brands Carlsberg and Carlsberg Export, Somersby cider and flavours, and our range of craft and speciality beers.”

Staropramen is one a number of beer brands owned by one of the five major brewing companies and distributed in the UK by another. These include Carlsberg’s Kronenbourg and SABMiller’s Foster’s, both of which are distributed in the UK by Heineken. Molson Coors previously handled UK distribution for Corona, but handed control of the Mexican brand to owner AB InBev in January.