A-B Sheds Grolsch

Miller picks up importing rights

Anheuser-Busch said it will no longer be the exclusive U.S. importer of Grolsch beer brands after agreeing in principle to transfer the rights to rival Miller Brewing Co., a subsidiary of SABMiller plc, for an undisclosed amount.

The move follows SABMiller’s acquisition of Grolsch brand owner Royal Grolsch NV in February.

Milwaukee, Wis.-based Miller will become the importer of Grolsch, which includes the entire Grolsch brand line-up, including Grolsch Amber Ale, Grolsch Light Lager and Grolsch Blonde Lager.

A-B, which has imported Grolsch since April 2006, said by terminating its U.S. importing rights, the deal will provide enhanced protections for A-B equity wholesalers.

“The time is right to end our importation of these brands,” David Peacock, vice president of marketing at Anheuser-Busch Inc., said in a statement. “It is important that our wholesalers who transition these brands are able to protect their investments. This agreement includes provisions for our distributors that will compensate them appropriately.”

Grolsch will have access to Miller’s network of approximately 450 distributors, who will have the opportunity to add the Dutch brand to their businesses.