On a recent muggy Friday in Mumbai and in Delhi, more than a few night-owls stepping into select night-spots were greeted with a treat. As the valet pocketed their car keys, he also asked if he could load a case of Carlsberg beer into the trunk of the vehicle. And that is exactly what Pradeep Gidwani, Managing Director, South Asia Breweries, a joint venture between Carlsberg and a clutch of investors, means when he says: “We don’t need an advertising agency, because we’re being very targeted and select in our marketing”.South Asia Breweries was established in November 2006, with Carlsberg holding a 45 per cent stake in the JV, Industrialisation Fund for Developing Countries 10 per cent with the rest being held by a group of investors led by Carlsberg’s partner in Sri Lanka. Founded in 1847, Carlsberg is one of the world’s largest brewery groups with a portfolio of beer brands that includes Carlsberg Pilsner, as well as strong international brands such as Tuborg, Baltika and Holsten. Headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, the company operates primarily in mature markets in Western Europe, but is in the process of an astounding growth in Eastern Europe and Asia.
Carlsberg is currently the only all-malt beer available in India, and as Gidwani explains: “The difference is exactly like that between a blended Scotch whiskey and Single Malt.” Of the four Carlsberg breweries in the country, only one is an acquisition; the other three have been set up from scratch. Over the past eight months the company has invested Rs 200-odd crore. All ingredients are imported from Denmark: the malt, the hops, and the yeast strain, and the bottles too.
This is being done to ensure consistent quality and standards. Says Gidwani: “We’re just assembling it in India. A lot like the Mercedes Benz. And we’re very high quality; we are the Benz of beer.”
—Deepti Khanna Bose