News briefs: Heineken, Grolsch and Bionade

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

In this weeks industry round up, Heineken gets to grip with French
rugby stadiums, German soft drinks firm Bionade shies away from a
potential big money sell off and Royal Grolsch moves to step up its
operations in Kazakhstan.

Heineken's rubgy world cup woes As the rugby world cup kicks into full swing, tournament sponsor Heineken, which planned to cater to thirsty stadium goers, has been hit by an alcohol ban in French stadiums.

Company spokesperson Vivi Hollertt told that the company had originally received permission from the French authorities to serve beer at all 10 French venues hosting the world cup.

The company were later informed by a governing body, the International Rugby Board (IRB), that the permission had been withdrawn.

Despite the ban, Hollertt added that the company still expected to benefit from the effect of sponsoring such a major sporting event.

"Heineken activates a comprehensive series of promotional programmes and activities, in around 15 Heineken markets," she said.

"This is still our aim; not being able to pour beer in the stadiums doesn't change this."

However, Hollertt added that beer lovers need not remain parched whilst attending the tournament, as the company was still able to supply its non-alcoholic Amstel free brand at all matches held in the country.

It was too early at this point though to say how this would affect its alcohol-free beer sales though, Hollertt said.

Bionade spurns Coca-Cola advances German organic soft drinks producer Bionade has announced it has no interest in selling off its operations, after this week claiming it had turned down an offer from Coca-Cola in 2004.

Spokesman Wolfgang Blum told that the company is not for sale and would not consider any divestment plans.

He added that the group would continue with its own plan for global expansion of its brands, which are already available in European markets like Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Switzerland.

Bionade says it is the first non-alcoholic beverage manufacturer that uses a purely organic process for production of its brands.

According to the company's figures, 70 million bottles of its products were sold globally last year.

Grolsch targets Kazakhstan in new deal Dutch brewer Royal Grolsch is to expand its presence into growing Eastern European markets with a new distribution deal for its brands Kazakhstan.

The company has entered into an agreement with the Efes Beer Group to produce some of its beers under license in the country.

Group president Rob Snel said the deal would give a significant boost to the sales potential of it Amsterdam lager brand in the local market.

"Our agreement brings many logistical benefits as all the activities will take place directly in Kazakhstan ," he stated.

"We expect the first Amsterdam beer to be brewed in Kazakhstan at the end of September."

The group continues to license its brands on the back of growing international sales, announcing just last month that it had agreed a deal with Australian group Premium Beverages to import, market and distribute Grolsch in the country.

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