Radeberger Gruppe AG

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Radeberger Gruppe AG

Darmstadter Landstr 185
Frankfurt am Main
Telephone: + 49 69 6 06 5 0
Fax: + 49 69 6 06 52 09
Web site: http://www.radeberger-gruppe.de

Wholly Owned Subsidiary of Oetker Gruppe
1870 as Binding Brauerei
Employees: 2,600
Sales: EUR 990 million ($1.03 billion) (2003)
NAIC: 312120 Breweries; 312111 Soft Drink Manufacturing; 722110 Full-Service Restaurants; 722410 Drinking Places (Alcoholic Beverages)

Radeberger Gruppe AG, formerly known as Binding Brauerei, is one of the largest brewery groups in the highly fragmented German beer market. The company controls a number of top national, regional, and local and "trend" breweries and brands as well as other beverage brands, and produces a total of more than 9.2 million hectoliters per year. Radeberger's portfolio is segmented into three categories. National brands include company flagship Radeberger Pilsner, one of Germany's oldest and best-selling pilsner beers; Clausthaler, a nonalcoholic beer developed by the company in the 1970s; Schoefferhof Weise, the fourth best-selling wheat beer in Germany; and the mineral water brand Selters Mineralwasser. The company's regional brands include Dortmunder Actien7-Brauerei in Dortmund, Radeberger Exportbierbrauerei in Radeberg/Dresden, Krostitzer Brauerei in Krostitz/Leipzig, Binding-Brauerei in Frankfurt am Main, Henninger-Bräu in Frankfurt am Main, Erbacher Brauhaus in Erbach/Odenwald, and Allgäuer Brauhaus in Bavaria. Radeberger also controls Krušovice, a leading beer in the Czech Republic, and Allgäuer Brauhaus (Allgäu District of Bavaria Brewery) as well as the table water producer Selters Mineralquelle (Selters Mineral Spring). In addition to traditional beers, Radeberger produces and distributes a range of Specialty and Trend beers, under brands such as Berliner Kindl, Carolus der Starke, the low-alcohol Henninger Radler, Hovels Original Bitterbier, Binding Flavored Lagers, and, under license, Corona. Once a public company, Radeberger was acquired by German food giant Oetker Gruppe as a number of foreign brewers began entering the German market and acquiring the country's beer brands. Following its acquisition by Oetker, Radeberger was delisted from the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. In 2004, the company posted revenues of approximately EUR 990 million ($1.03 billion).

German Pilsner Beer Origins in the 19th Century

The Radeberger Gruppe entering the 21st century represented the combination of several prominent German breweries, most of which were established in the late 19th century to produce a new beer type, Pilsner, named after the Czech town of Pilsen. Among the most prominent of the new pilsner beers were Radeberger, brewed in the Dresden suburb in what was later to become East Germany, and Binding, based in Frankfurt.

Pilsner beers arrived in Germany from the then-named Bohemia in the mid-1800s and quickly became popular among German beer drinkers in the nearby Saxony region. The rising success of pilsner beers encouraged a group of brewers to form a new brewery in Radeberg, a suburb of the city of Dresden, in 1866. The partnership began brewing that year. While production remained small at first, the Radeberg beer attracted a following. By 1872, the group had transformed the brewery into a shareholding partnership, called Zum Bergkeller.

The so-called German "purity" regulations governing beer production placed strict geographic limits on the country's brewers. Only beers judged to be of very high quality were allowed to produce for markets beyond a local level, with deliveries limited to the distance smoke traveled from a brewery's chimneys. These restrictions were lifted, however, in the case of beers exhibiting high quality and, of importance, longer shelf life.

The Radeberg brewery met the high quality specifications by the 1880s. As the company's pilsner beers reached a wider market, the group changed its name, becoming Radeberger Exportbrauerei. The Radeberger pilsner became a favorite among German beer drinkers on a national level. By the late 1880s, the company's production neared 300,000 cases per year. Yet Radeberger also enjoyed strong international success, especially in the United States and Canada. There, the German immigrant communities helped spread an appreciation for pilsner-styled beers. By the early years of the 20th century, fully one third of Radeberger's production was destined for the North American market.

By the outbreak of World War I, Radeberger's production had topped 2.7 million cases annually. The interwar period also marked a time of strong growth for the company, and by the end of the 1920s, the company's production had reached a peak. Yet the economic crisis at the end of the decade and the turbulence of the 1930s combined to depress the company's sales. World War II and the firebombing of Dresden further shattered the company's fortunes. Then, at the end of World War II, the Radeberger brewery found itself on the Soviet side of the Iron Curtain.

The Soviet-backed East German government took control of Radeberger in 1946. The company became known as the People's Radeberger Export Brewery. Backed by its government owners, Radeberger rapidly became the largest selling beer in East Germany. The maintenance of high quality standards, and continued investments by the government in modernizing the brewery, also led to the beer's return to the export market in 1956. Served by the Communist government at social functions around the world, the brand became especially popular among other Communist bloc countries.

The development of a special export variety of Radeberger, which boasted a shelf life of at least a year, even in tropical climates, led to the brand's wider acceptance beyond Eastern Europe. By the end of the 1960s, half of the brewery's production was destined to the export market, which by then numbered more than 30 countries. Radeberger continued upgrading and expanding its brewery and other facilities through the 1970s and 1980s. By the end of the 1980s, the Radeberger brewery had topped a production capacity of 4.7 million cases per year.

Binding with Binding Brauerei: 1990s

The collapse of Soviet control and the reunification of Germany in 1990 brought a new era for Radeberger. The company now returned to the West German market for the first time in more than 50 years. Demand for the Radeberger brand surged, in part as West Germans embraced certain products of their East German counterparts in the first wave of enthusiasm following reunification. Yet Radeberger, which had lost its government ownership, and its financial backing, was unable to carry out the necessary expansion and upgrade of its production facilities. For this reason, the company turned to a new partner, Binding Brauerei, which acquired Radeberger in 1990.

Binding's roots also lay in the second half of the 19th century. In 1870, Conrad Binding purchased a small brewery, Ehrenfried Glock, in the old section of Frankfurt. Binding had already gained experience as a master brewer, and under his leadership the brewery grew strongly through its first decade. By 1881, Binding was ready to modernize the operation, and the company moved to a new, larger site in Frankfurt. Binding formally incorporated the brewery as Binding Brauerei in 1884. By then, Binding was the largest in Frankfurt, producing some 45,000 hectoliters each year.

Binding was joined by his younger brother Carl, and together they built the business into a major Frankfurt region corporation. Into the new century, the company began adding to its portfolio of beers. In 1902, for example, the Bindings launched a new extra-strong lager, called Carolus Doppelbock, named after Charlemagne (called Carolus in German), founder of Frankfurt.

The company expanded in the 1920s through a merger with local rival Schoefferhof in 1921. The resulting company adopted a new name, Schoefferhof Binding Buergerbraeu AG. Soon after, the Binding brothers left the business; Carl Binding died in 1925 and Conrad Binding died in 1933. During the 1930s, Binding also prepared the launch of another beer brand, Romerpils, which debuted in 1939. In that year, however, the company's brewery was destroyed during air raids over Frankfurt.

Schoefferhof Binding rebuilt after the war, and expanded during Germany's economic recovery. Leading the company in its postwar growth was a new generation of the Binding family, led by Conrad Binding II, the son of Carl Binding. By the 1960s, the company had drawn up a new expansion strategy, and by 1968 had added a new corporate headquarters as well as a bottle filling plant. This resulted in two highly successful launches for the company. By then, Conrad Binding II had retired, and the control of the company passed to the Oetker family, one of Germany's food production leaders. By the early 1990s, the Oetkers' control of Binding had topped 71 percent.

During the 1970s, the company was particularly active in developing new types of beer. The first of these was the introduction of Schoefferhof Weise, a wheat beer, which quickly became one of Germany's leaders in this category. Launched in 1978, Schoefferhof Weise developed into a national brand and remained one of the pillars of the group's portfolio into the next century.

The second beer represented a true innovation: The 1979 launch of Clausthaler gave the world the first nonalcoholic beer. The company's research had succeeded in producing an alcohol-free beer that nonetheless retained the full flavor of true beer. Clausthaler was an instant success for the company in Germany, and also represented a major new export product. This was especially true in the North American market, where Clausthaler remained more or less the sole nonalcoholic beer for more than a decade.

Company Perspectives:

Radeberger relies on strong brands, high product quality, and management continuity. The enterprise does business in accordance with the motto "margin over volume." Radeberger is market and customer oriented, views itself as a company that produces pure products and is committed to conservation and preservation of the environment.

By the late 1980s, the German government was under pressure to repeal the country's beer purity laws, which shielded the domestic market from the arrival of foreign beer brands and companies for the first time. In 1989, the European Commission struck a blow at the purity legislation, demanding that "impure" beers be allowed into the country. This effectively led to the repeal of the purity legislation, and ushered in a new era of competition and consolidation for the highly fragmented German market. Indeed, at the beginning of the 1990s, the country still counted more than 1,500 breweries.

Binding played a prominent role in leading a partial consolidation of the market, making a number of significant acquisitions at the end of the 1980s. These included the 1988 acquisition of 87 percent of Berliner Kindl Brauerei, with whom Binding had already developed a close working relationship. The company further added to its interests in the Berlin market with the purchase of Getranke Hoffmann GmbH in 1989, giving it a network of more than 100 wholesale outlets. In that year, as well, the company launched construction of an entirely new brewery in Erbach.

Grouping Around Radeberger in the 2000s

A more significant moment for the company came with the toppling of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany. The company's recent Berlin purchases gave it a strong foothold from which to enter the newly liberated East German market, which proved highly receptive to the company's brands. Berliner Kindl, for example, saw a 40 percent rise in sales in that year alone.

Berliner Kindl also led Binding's first acquisition incursion into the former East Germany, buying up Brauerei Potsdam GmbH in 1990. Soon after, Binding deepened its interests in the region, acquiring Krostitz Brauerei, a brewer of Ur-Krostitzer pilsner near Leipzig. Then, in November 1990, the company acquired Radeberger, the largest brewer in East Germany.

Following the Radeberger acquisition, Oetker, which also controlled DAB (Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei) and Andreas Brauerei, restructured its brewery holdings, transferring the minority shares of both DAB and Andreas to Binding. Binding invested heavily in Radeberger, nearly tripling its production by the end of the 1990s. Radeberger quickly became Binding's national and international flagship brand. The company also added a number of other brands to its portfolio, including a license to brew and distribute Pilsner Urquel, the Czech beer, for parts of the German market, and later an exclusive German franchise for Mexico's Corona. In 1994, Binding went looking for expansion outside of Germany, and purchased its first foreign holding, Krušovice, in the Czech Republic.

For much of the 1990s, German brewers remained more or less safe from foreign competition, in part because of the strong German preference for German-style beers. The market shifted dramatically at the end of the 1990s, however, as a number of foreign players, such as Belgium's Interbrew, The Netherlands' Heineken, and the United States' Budweiser, began buying up a number of Germany's national and regional brands.

Binding responded to the new challenge to its home market in two ways. The first came in 2002, and led the company through a restructuring, creating a new holding company, called Radeberger Gruppe, in order to regroup the company's portfolio under this strong, nationally and internationally recognized identity. The company also moved to consolidate its operations, including merging its various marketing and distribution subsidiaries (which, attached each to its own brewery, had worked independently of one another) into a single corporate-wide unit.

Then in 2004, in an effort to preserve Radeberger Gruppe from the potential threat of a takeover by a foreign company, Oetker bought out the group's minority shareholders. Radeberger then delisted from the stock exchange, becoming a private company. Soon after, Oetker became Germany's leading brewery group through the purchase of a controlling stake in another brewer, Brau und Brunner, based in Dortmund.

In 2005, Radeberger itself entered the consolidation drive, buying up a 50 percent share of Stuttgarter Hofbraeu. As part of that purchase, Radeberger also acquired the option to take full control of Stuttgarter in the future. Radeberger Gruppe's strong brand portfolio and geographic reach gave it confidence that it would remain a German beer leader into the new century.

Key Dates:

A brewery is founded in Radeberg, near Dresden, in order to brew pilsner beer.
Conrad Binding acquires a brewery in Frankfurt.
The Radeberger brewery incorporates as a shareholding partnership.
Binding builds a new, modern brewery in Frankfurt.
As exports increase, the name is changed to Radeberg Exportbrauerei.
Binding merges with Schoefferhof.
The Radeberg brewery is taken over by the Soviet-backed East German government.
Binding launches Schoefferhof Weise wheat beer.
Binding launches alcohol-free Clausthaler beer.
Binding acquires 87 percent of Berliner Kindle Brauerei.
Binding acquires Getranke Hoffmann; construction of a new brewery is launched in Erbach.
After the collapse of communism, Binding acquires two breweries in East Germany, Radeberger and Krostitzer, near Leipzig.
Krusovice in the Czech Republic is acquired.
The group restructures, becoming Radeberger Gruppe AG.
Oetker acquires full control of Radeberger.
Radeberger acquires a 50 percent stake in Stuttgarter Hofbraeu.

Principal Subsidiaries

Allgäuer Brauhaus AG; Andreas Brauerei KG; Bärenbier Vertrieb GmbH; Bayerische Brauerei-Schuck-Jaenisch GmbH; Berliner Kindl Brauerei AG; Binding-Brauerei AG; Binding-Brauerei USA Inc.; Brauerei Potsdam GmbH; Brauerei Thier GmbH; Brauerei Wittenberge GmbH; DAB Gaststätten GmbH; DAB Italia S.p.A.; Dortmunder Actien-Brauerei AG; Erbacher Brauhaus J. Wörner & Söhne KG; Erbacher Premium Pils Brau GmbH; Getränke Hoffmann GmbH; Henninger-Bräu AG; Královsk y Pivovar Krušovice A.S. (Czech Republic); Kronen Privatbrauerei Dortmund GmbH; Krostitzer Brauerei GmbH; Radeberger Exportbierbrauerei GmbH; Schöfferhofer Weizenbier GmbH; Selters Mineralquelle Augusta Victoria GmbH; Victoria Brauerei GmbH.

Principal Competitors

Carlton and United Beverages; Ochakovo Beer and Soft Drinks Joint Stock Co.; Dreher Sorgyarak Rt; Pivovary Staropramen A.S.; Groupe Danone; Fulger S.A.; SABMiller PLC; Heineken Holding N.V.; Budejovicky Mestansky Pivovar A.S.; Carlsberg A/S; Allied Domecq PLC; Interbrew S.A.

Further Reading

"Binding Starts Holiday Promo for Radeberger," Modern Brewery Age, October 29, 2001, p. 2.

Bohme, Henrik, "Oetker Gulps Down Brau und Brunnen," Deutsche Welle, February 13, 2004.

"German Brewing Managers Expect Further Alliances and Mergers (Radeberger-Chef sagt weitere Fusionen voraus)," Financial Times Deutschland, June 18, 2004.

"Oetker Reaches Agreement with Radeberger Shareholders Over Improved Offer (Mehr Abfindung fur Radeberger-Aktionare)," Suddeutsche Zeitung, July 8, 2004.

"Possible Radeberger Brewery Closures (Radeberger denkt an Brauereischliesungen)," Handelsblatt, January 17, 2005.

"Radeberger Acquires 50% Stake in Hofbrau (Radeberger-Gruppe steigt in Stuttgart ein)," Die Welt, December 11, 2003.

"Radeberger Gruppe Squeezes Out Small Owners at Krušovice Brewery," Czech News Agency, August 29, 2005.

"Radeberger Takes Stake in Rival Brewer Stuttgarter Hofbrau," Europe Agri, December 19, 2003, p. 511.

"Radeberger to Be Removed from Stock Exchange (Radeberger kehrt Borse den Rucken)," Suddeutsche Zeitung, August 9, 2004.

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