MillerCoors (US)

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MillerCoors is the #2 brewer in the US behind Anheuser-Busch, formed in 2008 from a merger of the local operations of the former #2 and #3 in the market. As its name suggests, its two key brands are Miller and Coors, the only real challengers to the Budweiser family as America's favourite brew. Coors Light is now the #2 best-seller in the US, while Miller Lite ranks #4. Other products include a variety of craft beers and imports such as Peroni, Urquell, Grolsch and Aguila. The company is a joint venture between parent companies SABMiller and Molson Coors, who continue to operate separately from one another in all other markets. Differences of strategy between the pair have led to occasional tensions over the development of their US joint venture, and friction has been exacerbated by the steady decline in MillerCoors' volumes sales since the merger took place. In Nov 2015, SABMiller accepted a takeover bid from rival AB InBev. To secure regulatory approval, it agreed to sell its shares in MillerCoors to Molson Coors for $12bn. That deal completed in Oct 2016.

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MillerCoors website

Brands

Miller Lite Coors Banquet
Miller Genuine Draft Coors Light
Leinenkugel's Keystone Light
Milwaukee's Best Miller Chill

Parent

SABMiller / MolsonCoors

Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:

Adbrands Weekly Update 18th Feb 2016: Analysts are hoping that Molson Coors' proposed buyout of MillerCoors in the US later this year will result do something to reignite performance after disappointing figures for 2015 from both businesses. Molson Coors' revenues of $3.6bn were down sharply year-on-year, even at constant exchange rates; volumes, and operating profits and net profits (of $360m) were also all lower than the year before. MillerCoors - soon to be wholly owned by Molson Coors - saw a similar decline in revenues to $7.7bn and in net income to $1.2bn.

Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Nov 2015: After several weeks of detailed discussions, AB InBev finally issued its formal offer to acquire SABMiller for a total of £71bn. The delay was prompted by separate talks over a side deal, now agreed, whereby Molson Coors will buy out SABMiller's stake in their US joint venture MillerCoors for $12bn, conditional upon completion of the main merger. Assuming it goes through, the deal will boost Molson Coors' current revenues by more than 50%. AB InBev said it had wanted to demonstrate upfront its "commitment to promptly and proactively address regulatory considerations".

Adbrands Weekly Update 20th Aug 2015: WPP's US-based Cavalry agency, set up in 2013 to handle Coors Lite and other MillerCoors brands, looks set to be disbanded. The brewer this week announced a termination of its relationship with Cavalry. Smaller brands Redd's, Smith & Forge and new launch Henry's Hard Soda were reallocated to indie Mekanism. A review is underway for Coors and Keystone.

Adbrands Weekly Update 9th July 2015: There were further top-level changes at US brewer MillerCoors as interim CEO Gavin Hattersley attempts to address the company's lacklustre performance. Hattersley replaced CEO Tom Long last month. This week the company annoucned the departures of both chief marketing officer Andy England and sales & distribution chief Ed McBrien. David Kroll moves up to the CMO role, with Kevin Doyle named as president of sales & distribution.

Adbrands Weekly Update 14th May 2015: Molson Coors CFO Gavin Hattersley is to take over as interim CEO of MillerCoors, the US joint venture with SABMiller, when Tom Long steps down at the end of next month. Long announced his intention to leave in February, but no fulltime successor has yet been found. Hattersley will step in for a six month term. 


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Background

Free for all users | see full profile for current activities: German immigrant Frederic Miller acquired the Plank Road Beer Company, based in Milwaukee, in 1855 for $8,000. He began brewing his own beer using yeast which he had carried with him all the way from Europe. His five children inherited the business in 1888, and almost 16 years later introduced Miller High Life, the so-called "Champagne of Bottle Beer", and the first to be sold in clear bottles. During Prohibition, the company adapted to the new morality, manufacturing health tonics instead of beer, before reverting to its previous occupation in 1933. Although it continued to do well, Miller remained nevertheless a comparatively minor player. By 1970, it was still only the #7 US beer company. That year it was acquired by Philip Morris, the tobacco group that was seeking to diversify in order to protect itself against the increasingly negative attitudes towards smoking. 

By applying the same aggressive marketing that had succeeded with Marlboro, Philip Morris oversaw a rapid expansion of the business. The most significant development by far was the introduction in 1975 of the first nationally distributed low-calorie beer, launched under the name Miller Lite. This proved to be an enormous success, boosting sales to such an extent that by 1977, Miller became the company's second larger brewery behind Anheuser-Busch. It has remained in that position ever since. Yet despite its best efforts, including the launch of cold-filtered Miller Genuine Draft in 1986 and the acquisition of craft brewer Leinenkugels two years later, Miller was unable to make significant inroads into the commanding lead maintained by market leader Anheuser-Busch. Budweiser's spectacular continuing growth during the 1990s steadily ate away at Miller's market share. From 1998 onwards, Miller reported a steady decline in sales each year, as beer drinkers shifted their allegiance to Budweiser, or its even faster growing variant Bud Light. In 2002, Philip Morris Companies took the decision to offload the company, selling it to international rival South African Breweries. The resulting business adopted the new name SABMiller.

At around the same time, Miller attempted to establish a presence in the fast-growing "malternative" sector, which had exploded on the back of the success of Smirnoff Ice and Bacardi Breezers. Miller tied up with Allied Domecq and Campari Group to introduce ready-to-drink malt beverages spun off from the Stolichnaya, Sauza and Skyy brands. These proved an expensive disaster. The company bought back and destroyed thousands of bottles of Stolichnaya Citrona and Sauza Diablo at the end of 2002 at a cost of around $10m. Skyy Blue was discontinued in 2004. There was better news from the core beer portfolio which steadily improved performance as a result of an aggressive marketing campaign which made a direct negative attack on sector leader Budweiser.

The rapid growth of the malt beverage market was the signal the beginning of a new set of challenges, which this time affected all of America's major brewers. Although the popularity of flavoured beverages quickly began to fade by mide-decade, drinkers did not revert back to traditional American beers, but began instead to dabble in other areas, such as higher priced imported beers, spirits, even wine. Miller and main rivals Anheuser and Coors all experienced flat performance in 2006 and 2007. Yet still the gap between Anheuser and its tow competitors appeared dauntingly wide. Coors' own operations had undergone a considerable rebirth during the decade through two transformational acquisitions in the UK and Canada. (See Molson Coors profile for more). Towards the end of 2007, Miller and Coors decided to call a truce on their own rivalry, pooling their resources instead to mount a more compelling challenge to Anheuser-Busch. Former MolsonCoors CEO Leo Kiely was appointed as the launch CEO of MillerCoors. He was succeeded in June 2011 by Tom Long, previously president & chief commercial officer, as well as former president & CEO of Miller Brewing Co. 


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