The state-owned facilities in ˘Ceské Bud ˘ejovice have been expanded to meet growing demand for its core Budvar brand across Europe, including the UK, the company said.
As well as growing the number of SKUs it is able to produce for Budvar Original, the investment will see a major push for Budvar Dark, which has so far been mostly distributed in the on-trade.
Tony Jennings, chief executive of Budvar UK, said: “The central part of the investment is the £4.7 million new packaging facility. It increases capacity from 36,000 to 40,000 bottles per hour, but most importantly, it substantially increases the number of bottle packaging formats available to Budvar from 11 to 27 – something Budvar UK hopes the off-trade will take advantage of. Up until now we have been limited in the number of SKUs we could provide and these improvements take out this rigidity.
“We have been restricted to certain pack formats, but the investment means we can respond better to what the market and the customer wants.
“Given the success we have had with Budvar Dark in the on-trade, we would like to get it into multipacks and really push it.”
He added that the brewery was also considering launching more brews next year, although tests would begin in the on-trade.
Jennings said: “We will look at trialling new things, but probably on draught first. Last year we brought over an un-pasteurised beer for the Great British Beer Festival which was very well received. But, because we are talking about a live beer, it has a shelf life, so might not lend itself to the off-trade just yet. We need to move the technology along.”
Budvar has recently taken on a new brewmaster, Adam Broz.