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Carlsberg acquires UK rights to Kronenbourg 1664 from Heineken

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) has signed deal for Carlsberg Group to acquire the UK rights for Kronenbourg from Heineken UK.

The deal, which transfers the licence of the French beer brand from 1 June 2023, will see Carlsberg Group acquire all rights to produce and distribute Kronenbourg 1664 in the UK via CMBC.

Under the agreement, Heineken UK will continue to brew and pack Kronenbourg 1664 under contract, before moving to CMBC in 2024.

A three-year commercial arrangement has also been agreed to continue to list and provide the brand to Heineken UK’s Star Pubs & Bars.

Historically, Heineken UK has held the licence for Kronenbourg 1664 since 2008, following the acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle by Carlsberg and Heineken.

Paul Davies, CEO of CMBC, said “Supporting brands and innovating in the premium category is a key pillar of our strategy and adding Kronenbourg 1664 to our enviable portfolio is an incredible opportunity to achieve this.”

Boudewijn Haarsma, managing director of Heineken UK, explained: “We’ve been a strong custodian of Kronenbourg in the UK over the last fourteen years, maintaining product quality and investing in its marketing and distribution as part of our portfolio. During this time, we have also been investing behind our premium brands, such as Birra Moretti, and taking ownership of super premium beers Beavertown and Brixton. We’ve also exciting plans in the UK for our Spanish lager Cruzcampo. With a great brand range to offer our customers, now is the right time for Kronenbourg 1664 to enter its next chapter and we’re pleased to have reached this agreement with Carlsberg.”

Andrew Khan, vice president, global premium and beyond beer at Carlsberg Group, added: “Today marks a special moment for one of our iconic brands, 1664, for the Carlsberg Group and for CMBC. The team at CMBC share our great passion for 1664, and this agreement is an incredible opportunity to energise the brand, drive innovation and deliver growth within CMBC’s beer portfolio. As part of the Carlsberg Group globally, 1664 is enjoyed by customers all around the world and has seen strong and consistent performance in Europe and Asia, where we have been seeing strong double-digit growths in a number of key markets.  We have enormous confidence in CMBC’s ambitious vision for 1664 in the UK and are excited for consumers to enjoy exceptional experiences with the brand.”

According to both companies, CMBC and Heineken UK will work closely to support a smooth transition for customers, ahead of CMBC taking over UK distribution at the start of June.

The move follows Heineken revealing plans to launch its Spanish lager brand Cruzcampo on draught into pubs and bars across the UK, and could, potentially, see publicans switch their tied kegged beer lines that poured Kronenbourg switch over to pour Cruzcampo. Ultimately, it will depend upon the time frame of agreements in place at individual venues and licensed and tenanted premises tied to particular deals. But, in terms of how the battle on the bar for taps and draught lager serves will play out in the leagues of popularity and premiumisation trends leads to be seen.

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