UK rights for Kronenbourg 1664 to change hands

Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company and Heineken UK have announced that the UK rights to produce and distribute the French beer brand Kronenbourg 1664 will transfer to the Carlsberg Group from 1 June 2023.

Under the agreement, Heineken UK will continue to brew and pack Kronenbourg 1664 under contract, before it moves to CMBC in 2024. A three-year commercial arrangement has also been agreed to continue to list and provide the brand to Heineken UK’s Star Pubs & Bars.

The Kronenbourg 1664 brand is owned globally by Carlsberg Group, but Heineken UK has held the licence for the lager since 2008, following the acquisition of Scottish & Newcastle by Carlsberg and Heineken.

The brand remains one of the most widely available premium lagers in the On and Off Trade in the UK, with strong recognition in no small part thanks to comedic ad campaigns featuring ex-footballer Eric Cantona.

CEO of CMBC, Paul Davies, said: “We’re delighted to announce our agreement to take responsibility for Kronenbourg 1664, reinforcing CMBC’s position as one of the most exciting brewers in the UK. Supporting brands and innovating in the premium category is a key pillar of our strategy and adding Kronenbourg 1664 to our enviable portfolio is an incredible opportunity to achieve this.

“Kronenbourg 1664 is an excellent beer with a distinctive provenance, that is growing in both volume and value with strong brand awareness amongst consumers. We look forward to sharing our exciting plans to relaunch the brand with our partners in the On and Off Trade and cementing Kronenbourg 1664 as a leader in the category.”

Managing Director of Heineken UK, Boudewijn Haarsma, said: “We’ve been a strong custodian of Kronenbourg in the UK over the last fourteen years, maintaining product quality and investing in its marketing and distribution as part of our portfolio. During this time, we have also been investing behind our premium brands, such as Birra Moretti, and taking ownership of super premium beers Beavertown and Brixton.

“We’ve also exciting plans in the UK for our Spanish lager Cruzcampo,” added Haarsma. “With a great brand range to offer our customers, now is the right time for Kronenbourg 1664 to enter its next chapter and we’re pleased to have reached this agreement with Carlsberg.”

Vice President, Global Premium & Beyond Beer, at Carlsberg Group, Andrew Khan, added: “Today marks a special moment for one of our iconic brands, 1664, for the Carlsberg Group and for CMBC. The team at CMBC share our great passion for 1664, and this agreement is an incredible opportunity to energise the brand, drive innovation and deliver growth within CMBC’s beer portfolio.

“As part of the Carlsberg Group globally, 1664 is enjoyed by customers all around the world and has seen strong and consistent performance in Europe and Asia, where we have been seeing strong double-digit growths in a number of key markets. We have enormous confidence in CMBC’s ambitious vision for 1664 in the UK and are excited for consumers to enjoy exceptional experiences with the brand.”

CMBC and Heineken UK said that they will be working closely ‘to support a smooth transition’ for customers, ahead of CMBC taking over UK distribution at the start of June.