Tennent's owner agrees tie-up to take IPA to India

The parent company of Scotland's best-selling lager has struck a deal to brew and distribute the brand in India as it focuses on boosting international sales.

C&C has already seen 'good results' from Tennent's Charger Lager in India. Picture: Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

Tennent’s owner C&C said the partnership with Mahou San Miguel will also include the launch of a “local” India pale ale (IPA) into the market.

The Irish drinks group said that its overall sales volumes expanded by 66 per cent in Asia, driven by “good results” from Tennent’s Charger Lager in India.

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It added: “A contract has now been signed with Mahou San Miguel to brew Tennent’s Charger, Tennent’s Whisky Beer and a local Tennent’s IPA in India.”

C&C Group chief executive Stephen Glancey told The Scotsman that overall “the big push for us is around export”, with the Tennent’s brand in “good health” having grown by 34 per cent during the 12 months to 29 February as it opened new territories in Asia and Africa.

He said the export growth of Tennent’s is “quite exciting, really”, adding that he sees Europe as “interesting” with strong progress in Italy, while also highlighting France, Belgium and Spain.

Glancey said that rather than chase Scots consumers in the likes of Australia or Canada, the focus instead is on new customers.

He added: “Anywhere where Scottish whisky gets sold, there’s no reason why the Scottish provenance doesn’t work and you can replicate with beer.”

About 10 to 12 per cent of the total brand is currently exported, and Glancey said: “I don’t see any reason why we can’t grow that [by] double digits in the next few years.”

The Indian deal comes after C&C recently said that early indications from the launch of Tennent’s into the South African market in November were “encouraging” and plans were in place to increase distribution across a number of other countries.

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C&C said its branded volume grew in double digits in each of its main export regions, namely Europe, Asia and Australia.

It came as the group reported a 10.3 per cent decline in operating profits to €103.2 million (£81.5m) for the year, while net revenues in the year were 3.1 per cent lower at €662.6m.

Glancey acknowledged “a range of challenges” in its domestic businesses in Scotland, but said Drygate, its craft beer joint venture with Williams Bros in Glasgow, was doing well.

He said: “In our domestic businesses in Ireland and Scotland we faced a range of challenges including poor weather, increased competitor dynamics and of course the impact in Scotland of the changes to drink driving regulations.

“While cider exports support jobs and agriculture in Ireland we recognise that the performance of Tennent’s in international markets does the same for Scotland.

“Our beer business also continues to capitalise on the opportunity in international markets and our Tennent’s brand grew last year by 34 per cent as we opened new territories in Asia and Africa. In recent months we have finalised a number of new distribution deals and this will again sustain growth in the current financial year.”

Analyst Phil Carroll of Shore Capital said: “Overall, an inline set of results from C&C, which operationally is starting to see stabilisation across most of its divisions.

“We don’t anticipate material changes to forecasts and we need to see further evidence of this as we move into the key summer months before we get more positive but it is good to see management investing behind brands.”