Heineken snaps up Strongbow in Australia after Asahi forced to sell by competition chiefs

By Gary Scattergood

- Last updated on GMT

The deal is subject to regulatory approval
The deal is subject to regulatory approval

Related tags Cider Australia

Heineken is acquiring Strongbow from Asahi in Australia, after the Japanese firm was forced to sell the cider brand by competition chiefs as part of its deal to buy Carlton & United Breweries (CUB).

Heineken is also buying two other cider brands, Little Green and Bonamy’s. The company will also gain the perpetual licenses on beer brands Stella Artois and Beck’s in Australia.

The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval and comes after a successful bid for these brands when Asahi put them up for sale as a condition from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for their acquisition of CUB.

As part of the new deal, Asahi has to ensure the divested brands receive the same access to bars, pubs and clubs as well as off-premise space under tap-tying agreements as Asahi’s brands until June 2023.

The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but reunites Strongbow in Australia with the wider global portfolio after 17 years.

Ownership evolution

Strongbow was first produced by H.P Bulmer, which was founded in 1887 by Percy Bulmer, the 20-year old son of a local clergyman.

Ownership of the brand went to Scottish & Newcastle when they acquired H.P Bulmer in 2003. In Australia and New Zealand, Scottish & Newcastle’s interests were sold to Foster’s, CUB’s predecessor, which inherited the Strongbow brand in these two countries.

In 2008, as part of a consortium, Heineken acquired Scottish & Newcastle along with the Strongbow brand outside of Australia and New Zealand.

Today, Strongbow is Heineken  leading cider brand globally, sold in more than 40 countries. 

Jacco van der Linden, President of Heineken  APAC said: “We are thrilled to bring the Strongbow brand in Australia home to HEINEKEN and scale up our beer and cider portfolio in one of the world’s leading beer and cider markets. This acquisition shows that HEINEKEN remains active in pursuing growth where we see opportunities that align with our long-term strategy.”

The five brands being acquired will be distributed in Australia by Drinkworks, a wholly owned subsidiary of Heineken . This will strengthen Drinkworks’ existing premium beer and cider portfolio in Australia which includes Tiger, Sol, Monteith’s beer and cider and Orchard Thieves cider.

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