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James Clay signs exclusive deal for Augustiner

Yorkshire-based beer importer James Clay and Sons has signed an agreement with Munich’s Augustiner-Bräu making it the “exclusive custodians” for its beers in the UK.

The long-term import and distribution agreement which is also being termed as an Anglo-German partnership and is allegedly “built on shared values that go far beyond a transactional business relationship”.

The news, which follows German beer sales facing a downturn domestically with demand for local brews taking a noticeable nose-dive. In addition, according to reports, German beer sales inside Germany slid 4.2% to 6.9 billion litres (1.8 billion gallons) while exports were down 5.9% overall showing a drop in sales across the EU.

Despite the challenges the category is facing, Ian Clay, founder and chairman of James Clay and Sons explained to the drinks business that the distributor is seeing growth in demand for German beer and revealed that in fact, amidst these statistics being released James Clay and Sons is “seeing double-digit growth in the last twelve-months across authentic German imports” showing that the category still shows promise, especially on British shores.

Clay told db that this proves that Brits are looking for authenticity when it comes to lagers, rather than anything “generic” that has not been brewed at source. He insisted: “This growth demonstrates to us that beer drinkers across the UK are turning to high quality, flavour forward lagers as an alternative to the more generic lagers brewed under licence.”

Under the new agreement, bottles of Augustiner Helles and Augustiner Edelstoff will be permanently available via James Clay and Sons alongside specials and seasonal beers, Pils, Weissbier, Dunkel Helles Bock, and Maximator. The focus is to continue developing the brand as the lager of choice in independent venues.

The plan is for stock to move to non-returnable packaging to be recycled in the UK, cutting out inefficient return logistics and associated carbon footprint. Also, in line with post Brexit regulations, ‘James Clay and Sons’ will be printed on bottle labels as the official importer.

As part of the deal, customers will also have full access to Augustiner-Bräu official glassware and merchandise range, helping to ensure a perfect serve, in the perfect environment for the first time. The partnership has been created in an effort to increase supply chain efficiency putting fresher beer into consumers’ hands.

Describing more about the agreement, Clay noted how it chimed well with people seeking out premium lagers. He added: “Augustiner Helles is the pinnacle of lager brewing. Its meteoric growth in recent years demonstrates a deep appreciation for their beers in the UK and provides a platform for the next chapter for the brand. We are proud to become part of their story which dates all the way back to 1328”.

Augustiner stands as the last major independent brewery within Munich’s city walls. Being situated within the city grants them the right to serve beer at Oktoberfest, visited by 7 million people annually. It is also the only brewery at the festival to pour from 200 litre wooden barrels known as hirsch holzfaß or ‘deer wooden barrel’ as their weight matches that of a deer.

James Clay and Sons, which already has breweries including Stone Brewing, Schneider Weisse, and Chimay on its books, also recently struck an exclusive deal with Super Bock to bring the Portuguese lager to the UK.

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