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Tsingtao signs new UK distribution deal

China’s Tsingtao has signed a joint distribution agreement with LEC Beverages and In Good Company for the UK sale of its beer.

A joint venture between LEC Beverages Group and In Good Company will see Tsingtao beer sold in both the UK’s on-trade and off-trade moving forwards.

Previously managed by C&C Group in the UK, Tsingtao is currently the number one imported Chinese beer brand in the United Kingdom.

LEC Beverages, which specialises in the progression of top-tier drinks brands, has teamed up with In Good Company – owner of  Fourpure and Magic Rock Brewing Co. since 2019, when it acquired both brewers from Kirin’s Lion subsidiary – to jointly bring Tsingtao to as many retailers as possible.

In Good Company also counts craft beer People’s Captain and alcohol-free beer Big Drop, which joined the stable last year, among its portfolio.

Described by the brand as “a well-hopped standard pale lager”, Tsingtao will continue to be produced at Tsingtao Brewery Co’s facility in Qingdao, China, before being shipped to the UK.

It is currently available in Marks & Spencer, as well as offered in numerous Chinese restaurants across the UK.

“We’re thrilled to be taking on responsibility for Tsingtao’s licensing, sales and distribution in the UK,” said Jack Perry, chairman of LEC Beverages.

“We have a long-standing history of developing and nurturing premium imported brands in the UK market and we know how important capturing a brand’s authentic heritage is as part of delivering a smart route to market strategy. We’re excited to bring our expertise in this area to Tsingtao and look forward to collaborating with In Good Company for the first time.”

Steve Cox, CEO of In Good Company added: “While our heritage and DNA has been and will always be in craft beer, thanks to the phenomenal breadth of expertise in our team, we have capabilities well beyond this and are keen to capitalise on this as the business evolves. We’re also really delighted to be working in partnership with LEC Beverages, who have a huge amount of industry expertise.”

Founded in 1903, Tsingtao Brewery Company Ltd is publicly listed on both the Hong Kong and Shanghai Stock exchanges, and its beers are on shelves in more than 100 countries.

In July last year the company celebrated its stock rising 24-fold since its debut on the Hong Kong stock exchange nearly 30 years ago, growing from a starting point of HK$2.80 per share to reach HK$71.25 per share in 2023, making TsingTao a HK$127.76 billion company.

However, just months later Tsingtao hit news headlines for a slightly more salubrious reason, when one of its brewery workers was caught urinating into a malt vat, and detained by security services.

In a statement, Tsingtao reassured consumers that the batch of malt in question had been “completely sealed” and said that the company continued to “strengthen its management procedures and ensure product quality.”

However, it was not enough to stop shares falling 7.5% in the wake of the scandal, before quickly recovering.

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