The Molson and Coors brands still mean comparatively little to most British beer drinkers, but everyone knows Carling, the biggest UK brand owned by North America's second largest brewer. That makes Molson Coors the #2 brewer in Britain as well (behind Heineken) with around 18% market share. Value-priced Carling has been the country's best-selling lager by volume since 1971, and in 2004 became the first UK beer to sell more than 5m barrels in a year. The majority of sales are in pubs and bars on draught, with combined retail sales of over £1.7bn in 2018 (CGA OPMS) but it also sells another £350m in supermarkets (Nielsen ye Apr 2019 The Grocer) to rank as the country's #4 off-trade beer. Carling also lends its name to two popular cider variants, apple and dark fruits. Various other spin-offs have come and gone in recent years, including Carling Fruit Coolers and Carling Zest. Coors Light sits some distance behind Carling. Its sales have soared since 2012 as a result of a celebrated marketing campaign featuring Jean-Claude van Damme. It contributed £100m in ye 2018. The group also has UK rights to fast-growing Swedish cider Rekorderlig (sales of £40m ye 2017) and Dutch beer Bavaria. Indian-style Cobra Beer is a joint venture with its founder Lord Bilimoria. In early 2011, Molson Coors UK acquired Cornish brewery Sharp's for £20m. That company is best-known for fast-growing ale Doom Bar. The group added premium cider brand Aspall to its UK portfolio at the beginning of 2018. Phil Whitehead is UK managing director. Molson Coors Brewing Company UK reported revenues of £1.4bn in 2017, with net profit of £55m. The business was formed in 2001 from the acquisition by what was then Adolph Coors of most of Bass Brewers, one of Britain's oldest beer companies. Bass had been bought the year before by what was then Interbrew (now AB InBev), but the deal was blocked by regulators. Interbrew was allowed to keep part of the business but put the rest up for auction.
Capsule checked 1st July 2019
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Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Jan 2018: Molson Coors added to its UK portfolio with the acquisition of independent cider (and vinegar) brand Aspall for an undisclosed sum. Aspall cyder was first brewed in 1728, and has been owned and run ever since by the founding Chevalier family. According to Molson Coors, "Members of the family will remain part of the business and will play a key role in shaping the strategic direction of Aspall, ensuring that it remains a cornerstone of the surrounding community." Molson Coors' UK portfolio is led by top-selling on-trade lager Carling, but it has until now had only a minimal presence in the cider sector.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Aug 2017: Brewer Molson Coors revealed it had reduced the alcohol content of its top-selling UK lager Carling to reduce costs, even though it had not disclosed that fact on the product labels. The information became public at a European tax tribunal where Molson won its appeal against a £50m claim from HM Revenue & Customs for duty payable on alcohol content of 4.0% abv, which is the level advertised on cans and bottles. The company said it had actually reduced the level to 3.7% in 2012, so it should pay less. Duty is levied on a rate by percentage. According to EU law, a 0.5% variation in stated abv is permissible. Molson denies misleading the public over alcohol levels and said media reports had "oversimplified a complex and techical topic".
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