Ex-KMM chief to relaunch lager

Lobkov lager is about to be relaunched onto the UK market in a venture backed by former Kevin Morley Marketing director Stephen Smith.

Smith is a director of 1466,

a company run from KMM’s London offices, which acts as

an importer for the Czech

lager and he intends to expand the business into other alcoholic and soft drinks. KMM man-aging director Kevin Morley

has an interest in 1466 but is not acting as a director (MW last week).

Lobkov has a colourful history. The brand is owned by the Lobkowicz, a Czech aristocratic family, which brews it 50 miles south of Prague at Vysocky Chlumec. The Lobkowicz family first started brewing the lager

in 1466, hence the name of

the company. The brewery was nationalised by the Communist government in 1950 but was restored to the family in September 1992.

In the same year, former Young & Rubicam employee David Floyd began talks with the Lobkowitz family and the following year he became a managing partner with Lymbec. The company signed a distribution agreement with the family agent and offshore company Morville Holdings to import the beer to UK, Eire and the Channel Islands.

Lymbec staff also included market research expert Christine Jones, and Lord Lovat’s younger son Andrew Fraser. (Fraser was gored to death by a buffalo in March 1994 during a hunt in Africa.) Jones and Floyd are now directors of 1466, together with Smith.

Lobkov was launched in the UK in early 1994, but the venture ended in disaster. The first shipments to the UK were of poor quality and Lymbec developed cash flow problems. On October 10, 1994 Lymbec went into liquidation after Morville Holdings terminated its distribution agreement. A Sworn Statement of Affairs issued on November 23, 1994 shows Lymbec owed unsecured creditors 144,425.

1466 took over Lobkov six months ago and is expected to relaunch it within a month. Smith says the main weakness in the past was an over-emphasis on marketing rather than distribution. He says contracts with pubs, off-licences and wholesalers are imminent.

The company intends to continue with the premium-pricing strategy adopted by the previous owner. However, the design of the Lobkov glass and bottle will change. The previous design was done via Lymbec’s PR firm, SPA Partnership, which is still owed 8,521 by the company.

1446 intends to expand into other drinks products. It was in talks with Jersey Spring Water, which distributes a water brand called L’Eau d’Isle, but the talks fell through.

Floyd claims the relaunch will be successful because: “(This time) it is better coordinated, better financed and has better people.”