Coors Brewers Limited, the UK's second-largest brewer and owner of Carling, the country's best-selling beer, has announced that it is to invest £35 million (€54.9m) in its production facility in the spiritual home of British brewing, Burton-on-Trent.
The company said it would spend the money on increasing productivity and efficiency at the brewery. The improvements will increase capacity at the Burton brewery by more than one million barrels per year, further extending the capacity of what is already the biggest brewery in the UK.
Coors Brewing, which is the third largest brewer in the US, entered the UK market in February this year after acquiring the Bass Brewers business from Interbrew for £1.2 billion. Interbrew was obliged to sell Bass Brewers by the UK competition authorities after acquiring both it and Whitbread, which gave it a dominant position in the market.
Interbrew owns Stella Artois, the UK's leading premium lager brand, and a major competitor of Carling.
Coors said that the investment in Burton would form part of its planned capital investment programme and that extra financing would not need to be found to carry out the improvements.
The work will start in next month and should be completed by the end of 2003. The investment will focus primarily on new bottling, canning and keg halls, which Coors said would ensure that the site could respond quickly to off-trade demands for different types of drinks packages.
Peter Kendall, chief executive officer of Coors Brewers, said: "This significant investment is a clear demonstration of our parent company's confidence in the entire team in the UK and shows the size of its commitment to the UK business.
"It is just one of the ways in which we are looking to maintain the momentum behind our brands and improve our ability to win in the UK beer market. The investment in the Burton Brewery will help us to drive the top line and reduce costs. It will ensure that we can maintain our position as the most-efficient producer in the UK brewing industry."
Martin Thomas, supply chain director at the brewer, added: "In particular, the development of the off-trade in the UK towards more innovative types of packaging means that we must strive to become increasingly flexible in our production techniques. This investment will deliver the production flexibility required and ensure capacity for future growth."