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The Warsaw Voice » Business » January 16, 2008
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Brewers Think Big
January 16, 2008 By L.¯.    
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28 billion zlotys is how much Poland will spend in 2007-2013 to improve its appeal to investors under the European Union's Infrastructure and Environment Operational Program.

Kompania Piwowarska, a Polish beer maker owned by South African corporation SAB-Miller, has bought Browar Belgia brewery in Kielce, south-central Poland, from Palm Breweries. Browar Belgia is valued at zl.230 million, or 65 million euros.

With this acquisition, Kompania Piwowarska plans to increase its annual production of beer by 1 million hectoliters to 16 million hl.

"Through this investment we will be able to meet the growing demand of Polish consumers for our brews without needing to build a new brewery," said Dieter Schulze, CEO of Kompania Piwowarska, which makes brews such as Tyskie, Żubr and Lech.

Company executives say it will take about three months to incorporate Browar Belgia into Kompania Piwowarska's organization. At this stage it is not known what plans Kompania Piwowarska has for the Wojak, Frater and Gingers brews produced by Browar Belgia.

Meanwhile Kompania Piwowarska's largest competitor, Żywiec, plans to increase its production capacity by 12 percent by the end of the first quarter of 2008. An investment of about zl.200 million in its breweries in Elbląg, Leżajsk, Warka and Żywiec will enable Żywiec to produce 14 million hl of beer annually, the company said.

Żywiec also plans to develop its chain of Warka pubs. At the end of 2007, there were 30 of them across the country, 13 more than in 2006. Żywiec plans to maintain a similar level of expansion this year. "In a few years we want to have at least 50 Warka pubs," said Eliza Panek, a spokeswoman for Żywiec.

Polish beer producers are stepping up investment because demand for beer in the country continues to grow. Last year, beer sales in Poland grew by 10 percent to 36 million hl, according to preliminary data. Producers are hoping for a further increase this year.
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