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Molson Coors Buys Craft Brewery

Apr 26, 2005 - Molson Coors has acquired Ontario craft brewer Creemore Springs Brewery Ltd. Financial details of the deal were not disclosed in a statement released Friday by the newly merged Molson and Coors.

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It has been many years, not since the huge growth surge of the mid 1990's, that major brewers have showed interest in the craft category. But with the renewed growth in craft and lost sales to costlier brands such as InBev NV's Stella Artois, this appears to be an entry for Molson Coors into the high-end category.

Molson Coors had 42 percent of the sales in Ontario and western Canada in the nine months ended Dec. 31, down 2.4 percentage points from the same period a year ago.

Creemore will remain distinct from its parent, Molson Canada President and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Boyce said in the statement.

The Creemore brewery is based in a town of the same name in Ontario, about 93 miles northwest of Toronto. According to the company's web site, the brewery was founded in 1987 and employs 50 people.

"The company is very successful because it has a brand that has shown growth every year," Peter Amirault, senior vice-president of business development for Molson Canada said. "It's a very nicely robust, full-flavored, well-balanced beer."

"Creemore is rounding up Molson's brand portfolio and will strongly position us in the domestic super-premium segment, becoming an engine for growth and allowing us to continue to provide beer drinkers with quality products that meet their various preferences, as well as drinking occasions," Kevin Boyce, CEO of Molson Canada, added in a release.

Molson Canada could be looking to parlay Creemore's cachet to replicate the success of Labatt's premium portfolio, which includes Nova Scotian import Alexander Keith's India Pale Ale, said an industry analyst, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

But Jim Brickman, founder and chairman of Waterloo, Ont.-based Brick Brewing Co. Ltd., said his company is not fretting about stepped up competition from Creemore because the merger could fall flat with consumers.

"Part of the popularity of Creemore and other craft brewers is they are independent, small businesses," Brickman said. "That's part of the charm to it all."


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