CEO of UBL, Retail News, ET Retail

Premiumisation of the beer market is a “strategic priority” for United Breweries Ltd (UBL) and the company plans to introduce brands from the global portfolio of Heineken, the Dutch multinational, which now owns a majority stake, said a senior responsible for the company.

In addition, the company would continue to drive the mainstream portions through a category penetration gain share path, which would contribute to a larger portion of the business.

At present, the Indian beer market is “under-penetrated” and it has “immense” potential due to factors such as a large young population, growing prosperity and increasing urbanization, said Rishi Pardal. , CEO and Managing Director of UBL.

“In addition to beer penetration, our other strategic priority is the premiumization of the market. Today, the premium segment of the beer market represents a small portion of the overall beer market.

“As we continue to drive the mainstream portions through a category penetration share gain path, we are also focusing on how we can premiumize the portfolio over the long term,” Pardal told PTI.

Heineken, which owns a 61.5% stake in UBL, sees India as an “important market”, with the ambition to become one of the company’s main markets for the foreseeable future.

The company sees beer consumption return “to pre-pandemic levels,” he added.

Earlier this year, Heineken acquired additional common shares in UBL on June 23, raising its stake in the company from 46.5% to 61.5%.

When asked if UBL plans to expand its portfolio by adding more brands from Heineken’s global portfolio to tap into the growing Indian premium beer market, Pardal replied in the affirmative.

Pardal did not share any information about Heineken’s brands, which UBL plans to showcase here, but noted that “some brands are under review and we will launch each at the right time.”

“Our plans start with the consumer and understand what their needs are and based on what we believe to be a significant gap in meeting current demand, we will not hesitate to introduce brands from the Heineken portfolio,” a- he declared.

He added that “this is a very good platform for us to reach and understand the needs of consumers and to marry them with a large portfolio of brands that Heineken owns around the world.”

Meanwhile, Pardal also added that UBL’s Kingfisher, as a brand and as a product, has a large franchise in India and wants to continue driving it as well.

“It’s about piloting Kingfisher and complementing it with the Heineken portfolio,” he added.

UBL could initially import the new foreign brands here, but in the long run it would opt for localized production through its network of breweries across the country, which is its “strength,” Pardal added.

During UBL’s expansion into smaller Tier III and lower markets, Pardal said there are already 90,000 outlets sanctioned by various state governments.

“For us, the game is how to extend the depth of consumption in the point of sale,” he said, adding that “our conversation with state governments is how to expand the universe of points. sales itself “.

In states such as Telangana and Rajasthan more outlets are added and in Delhi there is a radical change in policy, in which they have moved from a company plus a private store market to a private only model.

“There are changes happening. Wherever there is an opportunity to have an outlet, we will be present and our job is to make beer more ambitious and acceptable to people so that we can stimulate the penetration of the beer. category, ”Pardal added.

Besides the domestic market, UBL also exports to several other markets.

“There are some markets, where a lot of Indian expats live and crave a taste of kingfisher… There we supply directly or have license agreements with Heineken. They can manufacture and serve the market and we let’s earn royalties, ”Pardal said, adding that UBL offers a number of models that tap into overseas markets.

In fiscal year 2020-21, UBL’s revenue was Rs 10,183.40 crore.

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