The South Africa-based global brewer describes Meantime as a “pioneer in British modern craft beer”, and therefore gives the company an entry point into the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market.
The company sees Meantime as complementing its imported super-premium lagers such as Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell.
SABMiller says it plans to grow sales of Meantime’s beers nationally and explore export opportunities in its European markets under the continued leadership of Meantime’s CEO, Nick Miller.
Meantime was established by brew master, Alastair Hook, in 1999 with a brewery in Greenwich, London. The business has since created a popular range of British and international beer styles.
SABMiller Europe 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.”
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,” said Miller.
Volumes of beer sales at Meantime grew by 58% in 2014, outpacing the UK beer market’s 1% growth during the same period and making it one of the top-performing modern craft breweries in the UK.
Among Meantime’s award-winning lagers and ales are its leading brand London Pale Ale, London Lager, Yakima Red, Pilsner, India Pale Ale and London Porter. London Pale Ale and London Lager together account for around 70% of total volumes. Following the transaction, Meantime will open a pilot brewery which will become a centre for SABMiller’s European innovation and new product development.
The acquisition includes Meantime’s retail sites, including the Tasting Rooms and the brewery shop in Greenwich, the Greenwich Union pub, pop-up Beerbox pub, and the Brewery Fresh tank beer concept, which is now in 26 pubs across London, complementing SABMiller’s Pilsner Urquell unpasteurised tank beer in a further four London pubs.
The acquisition is expected to complete in early June 2015 and Meantime will be incorporated into SABMiller Europe’s accounts.
SABMiller is the world’s second largest brewing company and are one of the world’s largest bottlers of Coca-Cola drinks. It operates in more than 80 countries with around 70,000 employees. Its brand portfolio includes leading local brands such as Aguila (Colombia), Castle (South Africa), Miller Lite (USA), Snow (China), Victoria Bitter (Australia) and Tyskie (Poland) as well as global brands such as Pilsner Urquell, Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Miller Genuine Draft and Grolsch.
In the year ended March 31, 2015, it sold 324 million hectolitres of lager, soft drinks and other alcoholic beverages, generating group net producer revenue of US$26,288 million.