Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, the UK’s biggest regional brewer, has snubbed Guinness by choosing to sell Scottish Courage’s Foster’s as its lead standard lager, rather than the relaunched Harp Irish Lager.
The move is a further blow for Guinness after Suffolk brewer Greene King, another major Harp customer, negotiated a new supply deal with Bass to sell Carling Black Label alongside the new Harp (MW March 28).
W&D will sell Foster’s as its lead standard lager in the majority of its 1,200 pubs, and has also struck a deal with Whitbread to sell Heineken Cold Filtered.
Greene King and W&D have taken the opportunity offered by Guinness’ relaunch of Harp standard lager earlier this year to break away from earlier supply arrangements. The old 3.6 per cent alcohol-by-volume lager is being replaced by Harp Irish Lager, a 4.3 per cent proof brew sold in Ireland (MW January 17).
Paul Gilham, W&D marketing director, says: “We are radically updating our lager portfolio. The opportunity arose to replace Harp with big international brands.
“The majority of our pub estate will take Foster’s. The rest will take Heineken Cold Filtered and a small proportion will take Harp Irish Lager.”
Harp Irish Lager is to be backed by new TV advertising through Publicis, to break in July, as part of a 4m marketing spend.
A spokesman for Guinness Brewing GB says: “There is absolutely no effect on Harp Irish Lager at all. It will continue to be rolled out and it will continue to be a success.”