Budweiser Brewing Group, part of AB InBev, the world’s biggest brewer, and pub chain JD Wetherspoon, have announced a 20-year partnership, whereby Budweiser Brewing Group will become the largest beer supplier across the JD Wetherspoon estate.
After a 41-year association with international brewer Heineken and its predecessors (for example, Scottish and Newcastle Brewers), Wetherspoon will be making some changes to its beer and cider line-up from 15th December. The deal will see Budweiser Brewing Group’s portfolio, including Budweiser, Stella Artois, Corona, Leffe Blonde and Bud Light, as well as Bathtub Gin, Bud Light Seltzer and Mike’s Hard Seltzer, feature prominently on draught and in packaged format across every Wetherspoon pub.
Additionally, draught ciders Strongbow and Strongbow Dark Fruits will be replaced by Stowford Press Apple and Stowford Press Mixed Berries, made by Westons Cider. John Smiths bitter is being replaced by Worthington’s bitter, supplied by brewer Molson Coors. Wetherspoon has also recently agreed long-term deals with current suppliers BrewDog, Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company and Molson Coors.
Demand for the Budweiser Brewing Group’s premium portfolio increased during the pandemic, reflecting acceleration of consumer trends; last year saw premium lager and world beer contribute the most absolute growth to the overall beer category. Stella Artois is the number one most powerful alcohol brand in the UK, already being the most popular draught beer at JD Wetherspoon and Corona is seeing strong growth as the UK’s most popular world beer.
This deal and investment demonstrates Budweiser Brewing Group’s ongoing commitment to supporting the hospitality sector in the long-term, driving growth and employment opportunities following what has been a very challenging 18 months for the industry. The brewer has made significant investments at its breweries across the UK over the past year and has expanded its infrastructure to not only support this partnership, but to cater for the growing demand in the On-Trade sector.
The brewer’s market share has already increased significantly in 2021 and, given demand for its products being higher than 2019, Budweiser Brewing Group has increased its keg and trucking capacity in order to sustain the volume for this new JD Wetherspoon deal, as well as its total on-trade business. These measures have put the brewer in a strong position to meet demand during the busy Christmas period.
Budweiser Brewing Group recognises that pubs are the lifeblood of communities in the UK. During the height of the pandemic, the brewer launched the ‘Save Pub Life’ initiative to encourage communities to safeguard their local pubs with the campaign funnelling £1.5m directly to hospitality venues when they needed it most. This activity was further supported by the ‘Stella Tips’ initiative to mark the reopening of pubs and restaurants in 2021, as Budweiser Brewing Group added £1 to staff tips for every pint of Stella Artois sold.
Paula Lindenberg, President, Budweiser Brewing Group, said: “We are so excited to strengthen our partnership with JD Wetherspoon. Demand for our premium portfolio of Beers continues to grow, and this provides us with a fantastic opportunity to invest at scale in the UK’s vibrant hospitality sector and meet the strong demand nationwide for our beers. At Budweiser Brewing Group, we have the perfect recipe for success across Wetherspoon pubs – we have a strong, leading portfolio that caters to evolving consumer trends, especially as people opt for more premium options post-Covid, and we have a fully integrated and experienced team that will provide high-quality, expert service to every venue.”
Tim Martin, Chairman, JD Wetherspoon, commented: “Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I will now become our biggest supplier, with new beers Budweiser, Corona and Leffe Blonde, in addition to their existing products, Stella Artois and Bud Light – as well as a range of bottled beers. We are also pleased to have agreed long-term supply deals with BrewDog, Westons Cider, Carlsberg and Molson Coors. Wetherspoon will continue to sell a wide range of traditional ales and craft beers from regional and micro brewers at competitive prices. We’re very pleased to have such a brilliant group of brewers supporting our efforts.”