Guinness Brewing GB is planning to relaunch its Harp brand as an “Irish lager” with a stronger alcohol content, to compensate for dwindling support from regional brewers.
Presentations have been made to brewers where sales of Harp are strongest, including Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, and Greene King in Suffolk.
If Guinness gets sufficient backing from these customers, the Harp relaunch will be supported by an advertising campaign through roster agency Publicis. This will give the brand a “fun, modern” image but play on its Irish heritage for the first time.
Greene King is to stop brewing Harp when it closes one of its breweries later this year, although the company says it will continue to buy Harp from Guinness.
“We are looking to expand the range of lagers we can offer to our customers and to include in the choice the market leaders. Much will depend on the success of the Harp relaunch, but we support Guinness as it supports us,” says a spokesman.
W&D Breweries marketing director Paul Gilham says he has no plans to delist Harp or stop brewing it: “We would not do anything that would be in contravention of existing agreements.”
Guinness is looking at renaming and repackaging its first black lager, called Strang, which is on test in Manchester, after research showed the name was unpopular.