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Asda hops on craft beer trend

Asda is adding around 100 new craft beers to its range in a major refresh which aims to build “the most credible beer range in the multiples”.

Wayne Smith and Lee Grabham of microbrewery Brew York with Asda local BWS and core ambient buying manager Alan Jackson

BWS category director Drew Tiffin said there was “sea-change” in the retailer’s approach to its beer aisles, and an exciting move that would tap into the opportunity of a category that is seeing triple digit growth.

He admitted that until now, Asda had not been “the most advanced” when it came to craft beer when compared to the other multiple retailers, but the move would change this.

“We hope we will become a real destination for craft beer drinkers,” he told db. “We want to build the most credible range in the multiples, so we are putting in 80 new lines – well over 100 if you include the regional beers.”

“You can’t argue with the growth of the category, it is coming through and we want to embrace it.”

Read more:

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The new lines coming into store this week are being adding as a result of stripped out duplication in the beer range, which includes some more mainstream lines, although Tiffin was keen to point out that this was “not at the expense of choice”.

“We have a lot of bog-standard high volume lager that we sell a huge amount of, week in, week out, but we also know customers are happy to trade in between the various formats and pack sizes, and it is quite easy to consolidate that slightly without compromising on a sales perspective or a customer perspective,” he said. “Through that we can create space, so you’ll now see three dedicated bays to craft beer.”

Ale and craft beer buyer Hywel Evans said the store was making a “big commitment” to the category that would give it greater credibility. Up to 10% of the beer space   will now be given to craft beer in stores that overtrade in craft beers, he said, and it will be running a promotion shortly after launch selling 4 beers for £6.

New beers added to the range include Brewgooder Clean Water (RRP: £5.50 per 4-pack) which is brewed by BrewDog on behalf of a not-for-profit foundation that supplies clean water projects to disadvantaged areas across the world, a bitter from Hull-based brewery Atom Brewery called Schrodinger’s Cat, (RRP: 1.60), a dry- hopped Bad Co’s Pale Aura (RRP: £1.70), Brew York’s Little Eagle session (RRP: 1.79) and a selection of American beers, including Stone IPA from the West Coast (RRP: £2.00) and Harpoon IPA from the East Coast (RRP:2.00).

It will also continue its rotation of seasonal beers, with BrewDog Hop Fiction next in store.

Beer hotspots

Tiffin said the retailer will concentrate on specific craft beer “hotspots” were these styles of beers have been outperforming most strongly – namely in the Scotland, Manchester, Brighton and the South Coast, Bristol and London – and making more regional beers available outside their local area.

“It is all about choice – regionality doesn’t mean it has to be a local brew, we know that craft beer drinkers want to explore.” wine buying manager Ed Betts added.

Tiffin said the real challenge was in getting the logistics right. ““The real challenge will be in getting this right, and we’re going to learn a lot. We’re going in big and bold but in some store we won’t be bold enough, in others we might give them more than they want or need – but that’s always the way.”

The retailed has also slashed around 25% of its wine range to rebalance the portfolio and add in more higher-priced and premium wines, and boosted it range of craft spirits. As part of the move it has revamped the Wine Atlas range, and adding nine new wines to its premium own-label Extra Special wine range.

Asda’s move follows announcement from Waitrose, Tesco and The Coop which have also boosted their range of speciality, craft and international beer. Waitrose added around 27% to bring its total craft beer range to 95 beers, while Tesco boostings its range by a third to 70 skus across its 400 high street stores.

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