Hofmeister secures investment from beer industry veterans

16 November, 2020

The former managing directors of Greene King and Ei Group have invested in Hofmeister after growing excited by its potential to take the world beer category by storm.

Hofmeister became a household name in the UK during the 1990s, but it was eventually retired in 2003. Richard Longhurst and Spencer Chambers acquired the Bavarian brand from Heineken in 2017 and relaunched it with new branding and a revised recipe.

Hofmeister is now brewed at Schweiger, a German brewery located near the Ebersberger Forest in Bavaria.

It has since gained listings at a diverse array of retailers and bars, including Harrods and The Connaught in London.

Former Greene King brewing and brands managing director Euan Venters and former Ei Group managing director Kim Francis have now invested in the brand. They have also become non-executive directors, and they are working on a plan to significantly boost its presence in the UK market.

Venters said he was particularly attracted to Hofmeister as he helped “rejuvenate old, iconic brands” including Durex, Radox and Vaseline during his earlier career. He then joined the beer industry and helped the likes of Fosters, Holsten Pils, Greene King IPA, Old Speckled Hen and Belhaven Best become popular brands.

He said: “Richard and Spencer have done a fabulous job taking it to where it is. It’s now a case of evolving its brand positioning and distribution.

“Hofmeister already has such strong brand awareness and affection, which usually costs millions to get, and we now have the authenticity as well. We think it will be a huge success.

“I feel lucky and privileged to be part of such a positive entrepreneurial story. This is a very clever iconic brand, whose product is sourced from a brilliant Bavarian brewery, with British ingenuity bringing it all together. We can each add something and we’re having such great fun working together.”

Francis, who ran a group of 1,900 pubs in London and southeast England at Ei Group, said he was intrigued by the new-look Hofmeister when he came across it at a trade show last year. “I first tasted the beer and thought it was amazing. Then I talked to Richard and Spencer about their plans for the brand and could see what an enormous opportunity this was.

“They have a beer, a brand and a plan that can make Hofmeister the most compelling beer brand in the market.”

Next month, Hofmeister will introduce two new brands to its portfolio: Hofmeister Weisse, a traditional Bavarian wheat beer at 5.1% abv; and Hofmeister Ultra Low, a 0.5% abv Bavarian Helles lager made with the same local mineral water, barley and Hallertau hops as the core brand.

The new, revamped range has the potential push on and make its home in the leading premium outlets in the UK, according to Francis and Venters.

Venters will focus on building Hofmeister’s brand credentials, while Francis will lend his expertise on boosting distribution.

They believe its “quality and premium credentials” make it an ideal brand for each trade channel, because it offers operators consistent, high margins, with no reason to discount.

The aim is to secure listings at 1,200 to 1,400 of the UK’s top bars, restaurants and hotels over the next four years, with a sales target of around £10 million. As part of this strategy, the Hofmeister team believes it can also attract more of the multiple and national players to list it.

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