Molson Coors to expand beer business in India
US-based Molson Coors, one of the world's largest brewers, plans to set up new production units in different states, including Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, and expand its existing facilities to establish a leading position in India's premium beer segment, a top company official said.
Molson Coors, through a joint venture with Britain-based Cobra Beer, has invested USD 50 million in a production unit in Bihar.
"We are very excited about the Indian market. It is growing quite well, and will continue to grow because of rising income and young population," Molson Coors International president Kandy Anand told IANS.
He said the company has outlined an aggressive expansion plan for India. "Our Bihar unit is doing quite well. Right now we are focussing on Punjab, Haryana, UP and West Bengal. We will expand in other states also," he said.
He, however, declined to share details of the planned investments. "We will invest as we move from state to state and as we expand. We have not put out a specific number for our investment. We believe in India and will continue to invest," Anand said in an interview here.
The USD 12 billion Denver (Colorado)-headquartered Molson Coors entered the Indian market in 2011 through a joint venture - Molson Coors Cobra India - with Lord Karan Bilimoria-led Cobra Beer.
Anand said the company would expand in India through the joint venture. The company has introduced its premium brand Carling in the Indian markets.
"Carling is the brand that revolutionised beer drinking in the UK. It is the number one brand in the UK for the past 30 years. We are already selling it in 20 countries. Now we are introducing it in India," said Anand, adding initially Carling beer will be imported in India from the UK and will be made available only at hotels and pubs.
India is one of the largest beer markets in the Asia-Pacific region by volume. In 2013, Indians consumed more than 20 million hectolitres of beer.
Molson Coors aims to tap the premium beer category that registered 49 percent growth in fiscal 2012-13 year-on-year. The company currently produces two brands in India - Iceberg 9000 and King Cobra.
"We will start producing Carling brand soon in our Bihar unit. But it will be stronger, because Indians like stronger beer," he said.
Anand emphasised on the need for bringing uniformity in tax structures across the states and liberalising distribution permits.
"India is like a statewise business. What we are producing in Bihar can't sell outside because taxes are too high. Every state has its own tax structure and distribution and permit policy. This makes multinational companies business tougher," he said.
Asked about the expectations from the new government that will come to power after the general election due by May this year, Anand said international investors are looking for better infrastructure and stable policies.
"It's not about political parties. It's the policies that we advocate. We want right policies and stability in it," he said.
(Gyanendra Kumar Keshri can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 28-01-2014)