After nearly a century of disagreements in certain parts of the world over rights to the Budweiser name for their beers, Anheuser-Busch and Czech brewer Budejovicky Budvar have formed a historic alliance in which Anheuser-Busch will become the U.S. importer of Czechvar Premium Czech Lager, the two brewers jointly announced today.
The agreement gives Czechvar, currently sold in 30 states, access to Anheuser-Busch's marketing and sales expertise and wide-reaching U.S. distribution network. It gives Anheuser-Busch another European import as part of an aggressive push into high-end beer categories that has led to alliances with Grolsch, Tiger, Kirin and most recently InBev, which added Stella Artois, Beck's, Bass Pale Ale and other beers to its import portfolio.
The agreement does not impact existing litigation or trademark disputes between the two brewers in other countries, and they have agreed the partnership cannot be used to support either side in any trademark cases.
"After years of differences, this is a meaningful step for two great brewers to form a relationship that is good for both of our businesses," said August A. Busch IV, president and chief executive officer of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. "For Anheuser-Busch, it also represents an opportunity to enhance our import portfolio with a super-premium Czech import. Working with our family of wholesalers, we look forward to introducing Czechvar to a new audience of beer lovers."
The imported Czechvar beer will continue to be brewed at the BBNP brewery in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic.
"Our business agreement will particularly please all connoisseurs of imported beers in the USA. Experience of many brewers' generations, who have brewed beer in our town for more than 700 years, lies behind our premium lager," said BBNP's CEO, Ji?Ã Bo?ek.
"At the same time, the agreement represents a historical turning point between our companies. We have managed to move away from discussions between lawyers and towards a practical dialogue, which is going to be beneficial to both sides. Our corporation has therefore gained the best importer in the USA," added Bo?ek.
Czechvar is a super-premium light lager. A 90-day maturing period and use of only top quality ingredients, including Saaz hops, assorted Moravian malt barley and pure spring water gives this beer its characteristics. Czechvar features a thick head, distinctly golden color and full aroma.
The brand is available in individual 330-milliliter bottles, in six- and 12-packs of 330 milliliter bottles, in a 500-milliliter bottle and on draught.
The agreement will broaden Czechvar's U.S. distribution by giving the Czech brewer access to the Anheuser Busch network of nearly 600 independent wholesalers. The European import is an important addition for Anheuser-Busch wholesalers as imported beer is one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. beer industry. The U.S. import segment grew 7% in 2005 and 10% through the third quarter in 2006.
The agreement was effective Jan. 5. Terms were not disclosed.
BBNP brewery, based in Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic, has long been one of the most successful Czech companies in the food and drink industry. Thanks to its gradual and goal-oriented expansion into foreign markets and the strengthening of sales on the domestic market, BBNP managed to achieve a significant position in the beer market both in the Czech Republic and abroad. Based on the volume of exported beer, the original Czech premium lager brewed by BBNP is one of the best-selling Czech beers abroad. This beer has earned numerous medals and diplomas from domestic and foreign quality competitions. Today BBNP exports nearly half of its output to more than 50 countries on five continents. For more information, visit www.czechvar.com.
Based in St. Louis, Anheuser-Busch is the leading American brewer, holding a 48.8% share of U.S. beer sales. The company brews the world's largest-selling beers, Budweiser and Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch also owns a 50% share in Grupo Modelo, Mexico's leading brewer, and a 27% share in China brewer Tsingtao. Anheuser-Busch ranked No. 1 among beverage companies in FORTUNE Magazine's Most Admired U.S. and Global Companies lists in 2006. Anheuser-Busch is one of the largest theme park operators in the United States, is a major manufacturer of aluminum cans and one of the world's largest recyclers of aluminum cans.