The company is also to develop a new 75,000HL (150,000 keg) craft brewery, also in Cork. This is the first development from its new Emerging Markets & Craft Beer unit, set up to oversee its interests in craft beer in both countries.
According to the company, craft beer is expected to grow from €24 million to approximately €235 million in retail sales value of the Irish beer market by 2017.
Molson Coors’ Irish craft brewery operations will be chaired by one of Franciscan Well Brewery’s founders, Shane Long. Long, who is also the chairman of the Irish Craft Brewers Association, will continue to run the existing and planned new brewery in Cork.
The Franciscan Well Brewery was established in 1998 and its beers include Shandon Export Stout, 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.
Molson Coors Ireland is to expand Franciscan Well’s existing range of brands and its overall annual brewing capacity in Cork from 2,000HL (4,000 kegs) up to 75,000HL (150,000 kegs) per annum. 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.
Franciscan Well’s five existing employees will join Molson Coors while the expanded brewing operations will create 10 new jobs in Cork.
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."
Shane Long, Franciscan Well Brewery founder, said: “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.”
Molson Coors declined to disclose financial details.