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Cobra beer to increase India capacity

india Updated: Jul 06, 2006 12:34 IST
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Cobra, the 'NRI beer' company, is negotiating tie-ups with three additional breweries - a move that will take its capacity in India to four million cases a year.

Cobra, which positions itself as a premium beer and is sold largely in Britain's Indian restaurants, entered the Indian market three years ago, initially importing the beer from its production unit in Bedford, Britain.

It later tied up with Mount Shivalik Breweries in Rajasthan to commence local production and aims to touch sales of one million cases a year within the next 18 months.

The Indian beer market is estimated to be about 100 million cases a year.

Cobra CEO Karan Bilimoria, who was granted peerage on June 16, said that with the four breweries in place, the company would be in a position to better distribute its beer nationally.

"We will announce the tie-ups in a few weeks time. We also have plans to set up a greenfield project in Hyderabad. We estimate the company would have invested $20 million in India by the time the project is set up," Bilimoria told the agency.

Lord Bilimoria, as he will henceforth be referred to, likens Cobra's entry into India to an "NRI coming home".

"We are a British company, but Cobra is a beer of Indian origin (it was initially brewed in Bangalore and exported to Britain when the brand was launched in Britain in 1990). So it is like coming home for us.

"It is India's first international beer - it is exported to 42 countries," said Bilimoria, who has production units in Britain, Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands, apart from India.

Priced at par with premium brands like Fosters, Cobra has also launched its non-alcoholic beer in India and plans to hit the market with its superstrong King Cobra brand as well.