Molson Coors continues to cultivate its portfolio
Following the brewer’s acquisition of fruit cider brand Rekorderlig in 2015, the Aspall acquisition signals the company’s continued confidence in the cider category, according to Molson Coors’ chief financial officer, Simon Kerry.
He told SLTN Molson Coors is “incredibly interested” in the cider category at present.
“We see it as a big, profitable segment,” he said.
“As you’ve seen recently, we’ve invested quite a bit with the Rekorderlig acquisition with a view to other meaningful portfolio cider brands; and we think this Aspall acquisition really complements our existing portfolio.”
Aspall, which was founded in 1728 by Clement Chevallier and is still operated from Aspall Hall in Suffolk by the eighth generation of the family, perfectly matched what Molson Coors was after: a premium cider with an interesting, authentic history.
“We’re really excited to have it on board; we think it’s a great brand, [which offers] great provenance and authenticity – and it really is a brand that has a story to tell,” said Kerry.
With Aspall’s heritage a major factor behind Molson Coors’ decision to acquire the brand, brothers Henry and Barry Chevallier Guild of Aspall will continue to be involved in the business.
What we strive to do is have a really well- rounded portfolio, both in beer and now cider.
Kerry said that Molson Coors aims to learn from the family firm with such longevity in the cider industry.
He said: “We’ll very much use Henry and Barry as the ‘conscience’ of the brand because they’ve obviously successfully built it over eight generations and 290 years – so there’s a lot for us to learn from those guys.
“But we’ll also bring our own thoughts to it in terms of our brand-building capabilities.”
Molson Coors also brings considerable spending power to the table.
“I think if Henry and Barry would say one thing, it is that the brand hasn’t had the investment that it needed over the last few years – and this is quite a nice coming together of what we bring to the party in terms of marketing and investment and distribution, and a brand with a really great story to tell,” he explained.
“So we will look to exploit all our existing distribution routes to grow the brand.”
And there is real potential to grow the Aspall brand in the Scottish on-trade, according to Kerry.
Admitting that Aspall’s current percentage share of the Scottish cider market is relatively small, he said Molson Coors sees “opportunity in the brand to really invest behind its premium nature”.
“And across Scotland, and the rest of the UK, we see a lot of opportunity for growing [Aspall] into our existing distribution routes and we really want to invest behind the brand,” he said.
Our view is the cider category will continue to grow like we’ve seen in the last couple of years.
The brewer reckons the on-trade cider category is in rude health, and is confident it’ll remain that way.
“Our view internally is that it will continue to grow like we’ve seen over the last couple of years,” said Kerry.
Citing CGA data, Kerry said the category’s worth stood at “around £142 million for the year to 2017”.
“And it’s in growth of around 3%, so clearly consumers are moving into the cider category,” he said.
“You look at 3% growth in 2017, it looks to be 3% to 3.5% growth in 2018 – so we see it as a continuous growth area for the Scottish on-trade.”
With Aspall onboard alongside Molson Coors’ existing cider brands, the brewer is confident the new addition will help it step up its presence in the on-trade cider category.
Kerry said: “To be honest, it’s the same strategy we have with beer; what we strive to do is have a really well-rounded portfolio.
“They play in different segments – Rekorderlig is more in the fruit segment, Aspall we see firmly as that premium, apple cider.
“We think now with Rekorderlig, with Aspall, with Carling British Cider and with Sharp’s Orchard Cider, we’ve got a really compelling range of ciders that will give customers that choice.
“So we think [Aspall] is a complementary acquisition.”
Moving forward, Aspall will operate as part of Molson Coors UK & Ireland and will continue to press, ferment, keg and bottle at the Cyder House in Suffolk.
Aspall at a glance
1728 – Clement Chevallier founds Suffolk-based cider firm Aspall.
290 years later, the eighth generation of Chevallier’s family runs the business.
2018 – Molson Coors purchases Aspall for an undisclosed sum.