UK rights for the Spanish lager will switch to the UK arm of Carlsberg – Heineken’s partner in the acquisition of the whole S&N group – on Nov 1. Simon Green, marketing manager for portfolio brands at Carlsberg UK, said the company had now ended its search for new brands, after also taking on Mythos from Greece, Russian brand Baltika and Grimbergen of Belgium earlier this year.
“We will focus on what we have for now,” he said. “There’s certainly nothing else of this scale that we’re working on.” Green added that TV would be part of the above-the-line spend for what Carlsberg said would be “a significant budget” to support the brand in the UK market. “It’s a working plan at the moment,” he said. “It is really early days but I’d imagine it would be an evolution of the Spanish theme that has worked for the brand up to now.”
S&N UK had fought to hang on to the brand, which had enjoyed considerable success in the UK market in recent years, but Mahou San Miguel, the Spanish group that licences the brand to S&N, was keen to seek new distribution as Heineken is its main rival in the Spanish market.
In a statement issued this week, Mahou San Miguel said: “We are confident that the team at Carlsberg are well-placed to unlock San Miguel’s potential within the UK off-trade over the coming years, thus maintaining the brand’s momentum.”
San Miguel was listed as the 15th biggest beer in the UK off-trade by Nielsen in November 2007, with sales up 6% on an MAT basis. The world beer category increased by 13.5% in the year to September 2008 (Nielsen Scantrack). San Miguel’s exit leaves the Heineken-controlled S&N UK operation with two remaining major premium lagers – Heineken and Kronenbourg 1664.