Heineken is planning to launch Strongbow in Europe under a new name later this year. The move comes as the Dutch brewer begins to integrate the Scottish & Newcastle brands it acquired earlier this year into its portfolio.
It is not known what the brand name will be for the cider but it is understood the launch will be supported by a major marketing communications programme.
It is thought that St Luke’s, which handles advertising for Strongbow in the UK, has been appointed to develop a pan-European strategy.
Heineken and Danish brewer Carlsberg acquired S&N earlier this year as a joint venture. Heineken has pocketed the British brewer’s operations in most Western European markets, as well as the US and India. Carlsberg handles S&N’s business in France, Greece, China and Vietnam.
S&N acquired the Strongbow brand five years ago as part of a £278m takeover of Hereford-based brewer HP Bulmer. Since its acquisition, Strongbow has seen organic growth in both draught and can formats following huge investment in the brand.
To capture the soaring premium end of the market, S&N launched Strongbow Sirrus in 2005 summer, a sub-brand, which at 5% ABV (alcohol by volume) is slightly stronger than the 4.5% main brand.
Strongbow has been the market leader for some time but the category has been reinvigorated by the arrival of “over ice” ciders such as Magners. Strongbow sales increased 23% to £165.2m last year (AC Nielsen).