Brewing heavyweight SABMiller – which boasts big brands Peroni and Grolsch among many others – says the acquisition will also boost its strategy to develop beers that are attractive alternatives to wine and spirits.
With the independence and true nature of ‘craft’ increasingly under the spotlight as big beverage brands continue to step into the sector, critics have reacted with scepticism to the announcement.
Meantime, however, has been quick to defend the move, promising its beer “will stay very much the same.”
“Fear not, no beer will be harmed in the announcement of this story,” the brewer said on Twitter this morning.
Meantime is based in Greenwich, London, with its beverages including London Lager, Yakima Red, and London Stout. It is stocked in more than 900 on-trade outlets as well as supermarkets Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, and M&S.
Nick Miller, CEO, Meantime, said “SABMiller sees the opportunity, and believes in the longevity, of modern craft beer in the UK. It shares our passion for putting great beer first, and making, selling and marking it responsibly.
“The team at SABMiller have stressed how important our culture is to our success to date, and has a strong track record in retaining the special identities and heritage of local businesses they’ve bought in the past.”
SABMiller says the brewer – one of the UK’s largest modern craft brewers – is the perfect entry point into craft, which it identifies as the fastest-growing segment of the UK beer market.
Meantime’s beer sales volumes grew by 58% in 2014 (faster than the 1% growth seen across the overall UK beer category).
SABMiller says it will grow sales of Meantime’s beer across the country, as well as looking at export opportunities in Europe. The acquisition includes Meantime’s retail sites (such as Meantime’s Tasting Rooms, the Brewery Shop in Greenwich, and associated pubs).
The acquisition is due to be completed next month, with the financial terms being kept confidential.