Cobra Beer

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Cobra Beer
Type Beer company
Industry Brewing
Founded 1989
Founders Karan Bilimoria
Headquarters Burton On Trent, Staffordshire, UK
Area served UK
Key people Mark Hunter, CEO of Molson Coors
Products Cobra Premium Beer
Cobra Zero
King Cobra
Net income Unknown

Cobra Beer's main product is an extra-smooth premium beer with an alcohol strength of 4.8% volume. The beer was founded in 1989 by Karan Bilimoria,[1] who thought that Britain needed a smoother, less gassy lager, which would appeal to both ale drinkers and lager drinkers alike.[1] A blend of barley, rice, maize and hops was used to produce the required characteristics.[1]

In June 2011 Molson Coors bought a controlling interest in Cobra.[2]


Cobra Beer was founded in 1989 by Karan Bilimoria,[1] then aged 27 and £20,000 in debt.[1] A Cambridge law graduate and qualified Chartered Accountant, Bilimoria launched Cobra Beer when it became clear to him that Britain needed a smoother, less gassy lager that appealed to both ale drinkers and lager drinkers alike, and that complemented all types of cuisines. He says, "The (British) lager was too fizzy, too harsh and too bloating. It meant that I couldn't eat or drink as much as I would like. At the same time, I found real ale to be great in a pub, but too bitter and heavy with food. So I came up with the idea of creating a beer with the refreshment of a lager, but with the smoothness of an ale." [3] The first shipment of Cobra was imported in the UK in 1990, at the start of a recession.[1]

From the mid-1990s it was brewed under contract by Charles Wells Ltd.[4]

Business losses accelerated in 2007 with total losses for the trading year to August 2007 reaching £13.6m on an annual turnover of around £45m. The business is approximately £26 million in debt and has borrowings from venture capitalists attracting interest at daily compound rate of 15%.[5]

Cobra has though continued to accelerate its sales growth in recent years. Most recently, Cobra's half year sales figures for the period from 1 August 2008 - 31 January 2009 showed growth in volume terms of 21% .[6]

It is this strategy of growing sales, instead of concentrating on the "bottom line" which may have caused the company's financial problems. On Friday 29 May 2009 the company went into administration, owing an estimated £75 million to suppliers.[7]

In June 2011 it was reported that Molson Coors had purchased a 51% stake in Cobra India, which will be named as Molson Coors Cobra India. The remaining 49% of the venture will be controlled by Cobra founder Bilimoria.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f "COBRA - Indian Lager Beer". 2010-03-02. Retrieved 2010-10-03. 
  2. ^ a b "Molson Coors buys 51% stake in Cobra". The Times of India. 24 June 2011. Retrieved 14 November 2011. 
  3. ^ interview with Karan Bilimoria on BBC News website 6 August 2014
  4. ^ "Exclusive: Mongoose bites Cobra". Brewers' Guardian. after May 2009. Retrieved 12 August 2012.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  5. ^ Source: Annual Report and Accounts posted with Companies House in May 2008
  6. ^ source: ACNielsen 2009
  7. ^ Goodman, Matthew (2009-05-31). "Cobra beer saved from administration at last gasp". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-04-30. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Bilimoria, Karan (2007). Bottled for business : the less gassy guide to entrepreneurship. Capstone Publ. Ltd. (a Wiley Company). ISBN 978-1-84112-726-2. 

External links[edit]