Chinese brewer Tsingtao has signed a distribution deal with Halewood International following the collapse of its agreement with Global Brands Limited (GBL).
GBL signed an agreement to distribute the Tsingtao beer brand in the UK at the beginning of last year but confusion arose over the exclusivity of the deal as ethnic food and drink specialist Westmill Foods was also selling it.
This situation along with issues over parallel stock and labelling caused it to end the contract with Tsingtao Brewery two weeks ago, it said.
"It is with regret that we have decided to terminate our relationship with the Chinese brewer because it has failed to address our concerns over certain issues," said John Harley, brands director, GBL. "We were particularly concerned at some confusion in the trade over our exclusivity earlier this year. Added to that there is a substantial and ongoing problem with parallel trading. We also have problems with the compliancy of the Tsingtao label, an issue that has yet to be addressed to our compete satisfaction."
Halewood International will take over from GBL next month and plans to invest heavily, capitalising on growing interest in China ahead of the Olympics next year, of which the beer is an official sponsor. It will also focus on linking the beer with food and growing distribution in the off-trade as it seeks to position the brand as a mainstream premium imported beer .
"We have consolidated all distribution for the UK and Ireland to enable us to exploit the near-universal distribution we enjoy in the ethnic on-trade sector ," said Wang Zhiguo, general manager of Tsingtao Brewery. "We believe Halewood's knowledge and expertise in the UK and Irish markets will result in significant long term growth."
Tsingtao is available in 330ml and 660ml bottles as well as a 330ml can. It is listed in Tesco, Sainsbury, Waitrose and Makro.