Spanish brewer to buy 32% of O’Hara’s craft beer business

Spanish premium beer producer Hijos de Rivera is to take a significant shareholding in the Carlow Brewing Company, the company behind O’Hara’s craft beer range.

The family-owned La Coruna-based company is best known for its Estrella Galicia beer. It has reached agreement to buy a 32% stake in the Carlow Brewing Company for an undisclosed sum. The deal is understood not to be the first step in a takeover of the Bagenalstown-based brewer, but rather a solidifying of existing ties. Hijos de Rivera is already Carlow Brewing’s Spanish importer and the deal will help push O’Hara’s labels into other European and South American markets.

“We have spent the last two years developing our connection with the brewery since they became our Spanish importer, and this gives me great confidence they can make a significant contribution to the future success of Carlow Brewing Company, especially in helping us develop new and existing export markets for our beer and cider,” said Carlow Brewing Company chief executive Seamus O’Hara.

“I think we can learn a lot from them, but we can also bring an entrepreneurial spirit and knowledge of the craft beer sector to the partnership.”

In February, Carlow Brewing announced its expansion into the craft cider market with the purchase of Co Wicklow company Craigies Cider, saying it is targeting annual revenue growth of 25% on the back of widening its range.

That deal raised Carlow/O’Hara’s cider portfolio to three products (it already owned the ‘Falling Apple’ brand) and management is hoping to add further cider products to its offering over the next year.

Its Spanish partner also produces a cider range.

The Hijos de Rivera deal, meanwhile, will also offer a return on investment for Carlow Brewing’s original group of minority investors. Carlow’s founders including Mr O’Hara will retain their controlling majority stake and leadership of the company.

Meanwhile, international sales of Jameson Irish Whiskey have shown continued strong growth. Latest sales figures from parent group Pernod Ricard show that Jameson clocked up double-digit percentage sales growth in the US in the nine months to the end of March, the first three quarters of Pernod’s financial year.

“The strategic international brands were a key driver of overall sales growth improvement, with strong momentum on Jameson, good growth on Ballantine’s and improvement on Absolut and Martell,” the group said.

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