Edinburgh-based Bellfield Brewery has successfully shipped its first order to Albert Heijn supermarkets in the Netherlands.
Initially the supermarket chain will carry all four of the brewer’s core range in the “free from” aisles of 180 of its largest stores, under a six-month exclusive deal that is said to be worth six figures.
The core range comprises Lawless Village IPA, Bohemian Pilsner, Craft Lager and Session Ale. All four beers have won awards, including in mainstream beer categories.
If successful, the deal could see the beers distributed across more branches of the Dutch chain.
The Albert Heijn deal was sealed for the Scots firm at a football match last year. Bellfield’s agent had arranged to meet the supermarket’s beer buyer at an Ajax match at the Amsterdam arena and he had taken along some Bellfield beers. Ajax won the game, everyone loved the beers and the deal is said to have been agreed on the spot.
Alistair Brown, Bellfield’s CEO, said it was the first significant export order for the brand in the last 18 months due to uncertainty around Brexit-related changes and the pandemic.
“This is great news for our business and could not have come at a better time for us, after 12 months of Covid-related disruption,” he said. “Our aim remains to grow our brand, in the UK and internationally, consolidating our reputation for producing great-tasting beers that everyone can enjoy. This is an important step for us.”
He added: “The last two years have been quiet on the export front in terms of securing new customers as they waited to see if there would be a Brexit trade agreement.
“Getting this deal over the line is testament to the quality of our beers and to the dogged determination of our in-house sales team, to overcome the challenges associated with Brexit.”
The brewery has ambitious plans to expand its international presence. It already exports to the Netherlands, Singapore, Malta, Italy, France and UAE.
Prior to the pandemic, the beer maker invested heavily in new on-site production facilities to provide more flexible production capacity, strengthened its sales and marketing capability and opened an on-site taproom.