The multinational brewer will also develop a new 75,000HL (150,000 keg) craft brewery in Cork during 2013.
This move represents the first development from its new Emerging Markets & Craft Beer unit, set up to oversee its interests in craft beer in both countries.
Molson Coors’ Irish craft brewery operations will be chaired by one of the Franciscan Well Brewery’s founders Shane Long. Shane, who’s also the Chairman of the Irish Craft Brewers Association, will continue to run the existing and planned new brewery in Cork.
These investments are central to Molson Coors Ireland’s plans to build a strong share in the burgeoning craft beer market as well as a significant Irish craft beer export business to international markets.
Craft beer is expected to grow from €24 million to approximately €235 million in retail sales value or around 10% of the Irish beer market by 2017, believes the company.
The Emerging Markets & Craft Beer division, headed by Niall Phelan, brings together its Scottish and Irish businesses alongside its growing portfolio of domestically-produced and leading international craft beers. This includes Sharp’s Brewery in Cornwall which brews Doom Bar, the fastest-growing top 50 beer brand in the UK on premise and William Worthington’s Microbrewery in Burton-upon-Trent, brewing the multi-award winning White Shield.
Speaking at the acquisition announcement, Niall Phelan, Director of the new Emerging Markets & Craft Beer Division for Molson Coors UK & Ireland, said, “In 2012 alone, the craft beer market grew 13% in the UK and 100% in Ireland. For Molson Coors, our investment in Franciscan Well and Cork is our latest strategic acquisition and complements our commitment to Sharp’s and William Worthington’s.
“For us, craft beer is about amazing beers from creative, inspired brewers that capture the imagination of the growing number of craft beer drinkers in Ireland & the UK. Whether it’s through our heritage in great craft beers such as White Shield and Blue Moon – the number one craft beer in the US, or Sharp’s Doom Bar, the Granville Island or Creemore Springs beers, I believe Molson Coors is uniquely placed to play a major part in developing the craft beer sector for our markets.”
Shane Long added, “I’m delighted for everyone associated with Franciscan Well since 1998. This marks a new beginning for what we started together 15 years ago. The Franciscan Well brand, heritage and brewery is all being maintained and developed, including our famous and much-loved brewpub in North Mall, Cork.
“Now, as part of a global brewer that understands and respects the craft beer movement, we have a big opportunity to build an international brand and business that we just could not have achieved on our own. In the short term, our loyal and new customers can look forward to some seasonal versions of our existing beers brands and some new limited edition beers to enjoy.”
The Franciscan Well Brewery was established in 1998 on a site in Cork City dating back 800 years to 1219. As well as developing a strong customer base, the brewery’s beers have received international critical acclaim including the recent accolade of Europe’s Best Dry Stout at the 2012 World Beer Awards for it’s Shandon Export Stout. Other beers brewed in North Mall, Cork, include Friar Weisse, Blarney Blonde, Rebel Red and Rebel Lager. The brewery also recently partnered with Jameson Whiskey to produce a limited edition Whiskey Aged Stout for the 2012 Christmas market.
While the existing brewery will remain, the additional capacity will be on a new site in Cork which is expected to be operational later this year. The objective will be to export more than half of the expanded Franciscan Well Brewery’s output to markets such as the UK, Canada and the US where there’s strong interest in Irish craft beers and whiskeys.
Franciscan Well’s five existing employees will join Molson Coors while the expanded brewing operations will create at least 10 additional new jobs in Cork. This will increase Molson Coors Ireland’s headcount by 15 people, bringing it to 70 since it was established in 2009.