SABMiller buys Meantime in bid to tap into female and millennials market

Brewery giant SABMiller Plc is to acquire modern craft brewer Meantime Brewing Company, the London-based multinational announced on Friday, in a move to make beer more attractive to females and tap into the Millennials market.

Millennials are people born from the early 1980s to about 1995 – in some cases up to the year 2000.

Meantime is a pioneer in British modern craft beer, which SABMiller believes will give it an entry point into the British beer market’s fastest-growing segment, while complementing its imported super-premium lagers including Pilsner Urquell and Peroni Nastro Azzurro.

SABMiller’s CEO, Alan Clark, said earlier this week that lager and beer marketing had been “insulting to women”. Advertising had often been associated with young men who consumed beer in vast quantities. He aims to make beer consumption an attractive option for adult female consumers.

SABMiller buys Meantime

Neither company disclosed how much the transaction is worth.

SABMiller says it plans to expand Meantime beer sales domestically, while at the same time it aims to explore export opportunities in some European markets under the continued leadership of Meantime CEO Nick Miller.

Meantime, a young successful company

Meantime was founded in 1999 by Brew Master Alastair Cook, who had previously trained at the Technical University of Munich of Weihenstephan, a famous brewing school. It started off with one brewery in Greenwich, London.

Since being established, Meantime has created a successful range of British and international beer styles.

SABMiller Europe’s Managing Director, Sue Clark, said:

“Meantime has been at the forefront of the modern craft beer movement in the UK and brews an outstanding range of beers across a variety of styles. At SABMiller we love local variety, and carefully nurture our 200 local and heritage beers.”

“Meantime, born in a city with a rich beer heritage, will be a special new addition to the SABMiller family.”

“Nick Miller, Alastair Hook and their team have built a strong sense of pride and identity within Meantime, which has an excellent reputation for brewing consistently high quality beers and for industry-leading innovation. This expertise will boost our strategy to develop beers that appeal to more people, including women, and which can be attractive alternatives to wine and spirits.”

Meantime’s CEO, Nick Miller, said:

“I can say from personal experience, that SABMiller is a great company to be joining forces with. They see the opportunity, and believe in the longevity, of modern craft beer in the UK.”

“SABMiller shares our passion for putting great beer first, and making, selling and marketing it responsibly to beer aficionados worldwide. The team at SABMiller have stressed how important our culture is to our success to date, and have a strong track record in retaining the special identities and heritage of the local businesses they’ve bought in the past.”

“We are all excited about the opportunity to continue growing Meantime. We are also thrilled and flattered that SABMiller has given us a remit to innovate. This is a massive compliment and acknowledges our position as pioneers in modern craft beer.”

Meantime sales growing fast

Meantime’s beer sales in 2014 increased by 58%, in a UK market that only grew by 1% that year, making it one of the most successful modern craft breweries in the country.

Among Meantime’s award-winning ales and lagers are London Lager, London Pale Ale, London Porter, India Pale Ale, Pilsner, and Yakima Red.

London Lager and London Pale Ale combined account for about 70% of beer volumes.

SABMiller says that after the takeover is complete, Meantime will open a pilot brewery which will become a centre for its European innovation and new product development.

The takeover also involves the purchase of Meantime’s retail sites, including Tasting rooms (its brewery shop in Greenwich), pop-up Beerbox pub, the Greenwich Union pub, plus the Brewery Fresh tank beer concept, which today consists of 26 London pubs.

The transaction is expected to complete in early June 2015. Meantime will be incorporated into SABMiller Europe’s account. Neither company disclosed how much money would be involved in the acquisition.