Guinness is to launch the Bass cream ale brand Caffrey’s Irish Ale in the US through its American distribution arm, in a deal which sidelines its own Kilkenny brand.
The Guinness Import Company already distributes Bass Ale in the US along with Guinness Stout, Harp Lager, Kaliber and a clutch of other UK brands. GIC is thought to make profits of about 10m in the US.
Under the deal, GIC will change its name to Guinness Bass Import Company, which is fully owned by Guinness, part of Diageo. Apart from Caffrey’s, other Bass brands are likely be launched in the US.
The decision to launch Caffrey’s appears to be an acceptance by Guinness that Kilkenny is a weaker brand, even though it receives about 5m a year in ad support in the UK.
Caffrey’s created the UK cream ale sector after its introduction in 1994, but has lost out to copycat brands launched soon afterwards. Guinness launched Kilkenny a year later in the UK, though it was originally launched in Germany in 1987.
Guinness Africa pitch, page 11