Up to five new beers are set to join the Stella Artois stable this summer, all of which will be launched in the off-trade first rather than the on-trade.

Two of the beers will be lower-alcohol brews, joining Peeterman Artois at 4% abv, but new UK MD Stuart MacFarlane denied claims the lower-alcohol formulations would be used to dilute the premium 5.2% abv Stella Artois.

The use of the off-trade comes as brand owner InBev looks to shift its business model from that of a brewer to a global fast-moving consumer goods company.

"We have one of the most exciting agendas in terms of innovation for Stella and the brand family in the next 12 months," MacFarlane added.

"This will be driven through the off-trade as we look to become a successful fmcg business rather than a traditional brewer."

"I have no intention of delisting or defocusing on the mother brand," he said.

The new beers are not expected to hit shelves before the end of July.

Earlier this year the company replaced its 6.2% Artois Bock with the 4.6% Eiken Artois as part of the company's "commitment to increasing consumer choice".

The Big Interview p32

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