Best-known as one of Japan's two leading brewers, Kirin has also established a strong presence throughout the rest of the Asia Pacific region, and not just in beer. It was also until recently the biggest dairy products and juice company in Australia. After almost 50 years as Japan's #1 brewer, Kirin had its lead stolen by rival Asahi Breweries in 2001. The two companies continue to compete fiercely in their domestic market, but Kirin has been unable to regain its supremacy. However, Kirin was much quicker to establish a wider international presence, initially through Australian food & beverage company Lion and San Miguel of the Philippines, and then in China and Myanmar. The group established an initial presence in the broader Australian food industry in 2007 with a deal to acquire leading juice and dairy products market National Foods. The subsequent purchase of the Dairy Farmers co-operative cemented its position as Australia's foremost dairy producer. However, a move into Latin America with the acquisition of Brazilian brewer Schincariol proved disastrous. That business was eventually sold on to Heineken, and in 2019, Kirin finally agreed to divest the last of its non-beer operations in Australia. The group has a foothold in the US through a minority stake in crafter brewer Brooklyn Brewery. However, the key focus of the business is Japan, where Kirin is the local #2 brewer with 34% local share in 2018 (to Asahi's 37%). The core Kirin brand is available in a wide variety of different formulations led by flagship draft Kirin Ichiban, and the company is also local distributor of Heineken and Guinness. It is a leading player in low-malt happoshu with Kirin Tanrei and others, and in the no-malt new genre segment with Nodogoshi Nama, Honkirin and others. It is also active in the sho-chu and chu-hi markets, as well as spirits (with its own Four Roses and Kirin whiskies and local distribution of Diageo's entire portfolio including Johnnie Walker and Smirnoff) and even wine (through Japanese wine producer and distributor Chateau Mercian). Kirin is also the local #4 in soft drinks with tea-based Nama-cha and Gogo-no-Kocha, Kirin Lemon, fortified energy drink Amino Supli and canned coffee Kirin Fire. It is the local distributor of Danone's Volvic mineral water and Coca-Cola's Tropicana juice. Other interests include dairy products, sauces and seasonings, and the group has majority control of pharmaceutical developer Kyowa Kirin, a long-term licensing partner for Amgen of the US. Yoshinori Isozaki is group CEO. Net revenues for 2018 were approx $14.8bn with net profit of $1.8bn. Beverages, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic, accounted for 75% of revenues. The domestic market contributed just over 68% of revenues.
Capsule checked 19th December 2019
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Historical profile information for Kirin Holdings
Adbrands Daily Update 25th Nov 2019: Lion's parent Kirin has finally secured a buyer for its Australian dairy and fruit juice division following a protracted search. More than a year after it began seeking a buyer it has agreed a deal to sell the business to Chinese giant Mengniu Dairy for A$600m. Brands include Dairy Farmers, Pura and Big M packaged milk; Dare and Farmers Union iced coffee; Vitasoy, Yoplait yoghurt and Daily Juice, among others. The acquisition is subject to regulatory approval in Australia.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Feb 2017: Japanese brewer Kirin called time on its ill-fated expedition into Brazil, selling its subsidiary there, the former Schincariol, to Heineken for Y77bn, or around $700m. It's a market Heineken already knows well, and the combination with its existing Bavaria business there moves the Dutch group into second place locally, though still a considerable distance behind local leader AB InBev. Kirin acquired family-owned Schincariol in 2011 for a whopping $3.9bn, but had to contend first with lawsuits brought by non-controlling family members who hadn't agreed to the deal, and then the dramatic downturn in the Brazilian economy. The sale crystallises a $3bn loss on the whole saga, though Kirin had already wrote off most of the value of the business.
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th Jan 2017: In Brazil, Heineken is in talks to acquire Japanese brewer Kirin's struggling local business, formerly Schincariol. It is the local #3 behind dominant player AB InBev and independent Petropolis. Heineken's Kaiser currently ranks #4 but combination with Kirin would push it into second place above Petropolis with around 18% market share. A figure of $2bn is being touted for the business, but that would represent a significant loss for Kirin, which paid almost $4bn to acquire Schincariol in 2011.
Adbrands Weekly Update 13th Oct 2016: Japanese brewer Kirin dipped a toe into the US market, acquiring a 25% stake in craft beer pioneer Brooklyn Brewery. The deal will give Kirin a foothold in the US and will also prompt the creation of a separate joint venture, 60% controlled by Kirin, to market Brooklyn's products in Japan. Brooklyn already has a joint venture in Sweden in a partnership with Carlsberg. The business will continue to be run by founder-owners and brothers Eric and Robin Ottaway.
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