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
India
Ireland
Key people Mark Hunter, Global CEO of Molson Coors
Products Cobra Premium Beer
Cobra Zero
King Cobra
Net income Unknown
Website www.cobrabeer.com

Cobra Beer is a beer brand manufactured in the United Kingdom and India.

The group's primary 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] and Arjun Reddy - 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]

As of 2014, Cobra Beer is primarily produced in Burton-upon-Trent,[3] and in Patna in the Indian state of Bihar.[4]

History[edit]

Lord Bilimoria - Founder and Chairman, Cobra Beer Partnership

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. Bilimoria claims that "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." [5]

Although originally intended to be named 'Panther' - the name was changed to 'Cobra' when a focus group found the latter to be more appealing. The first shipment of Cobra was imported in the UK from the Bangalore-based Mysore Brewery in 1990, at the start of the early 1990s recession.[1] - however, large consumer demand and increased import costs prompted Bilimoria to move production to the United Kingdom in the mid-1990s.[6]

From 1996, Cobra Beer was brewed under contract by Charles Wells Ltd.[7] and experienced strong growth in sales for the next ten years.

Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, Cobra experienced strong - double-digit growth. In 2005, the company's premium Trappist beer-style pilsner, King Cobra, was launched.[8] Brewed at Belgium's Rodenbach brewery, it is currently the only Pilsner-style lager to be fermented in the bottle.[9]

The company's alcohol-free beer, Cobra Zero, was also launched in 2005. The beer was well-received at launch, being ranked by the Daily Mirror newspaper as 'head and shoulders above the rest.[10]'

However, 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%.[11] Despite this, Cobra 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%.[12]

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.[13]

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]

As of 2014, Cobra Beer has continued to experience increased sales - albeit at a slower place that it experienced during the 1990s. Since being acquired by Molson Coors, growth has averaged between 7% and 10% in terms of year-on-year expansion.[14]

As of November 2014, Cobra currently has a market share of over 98% of all licensed Indian restaurants within the United Kingdom.[14]

In February 2014, Cobra launched a new advertising campaign with the Farringdon-based PR firm, Karmarama. Entitled, 'Meet the Boss' - the advertisement was well-received in a number of areas, including being dubbed 'Ad of the Week' by the communications agency, Stratton Craig.[15] In the first three three months of the campaign, Cobra saw 23% growth in volume sales in the off-trade - and a 77% volume growth in bars over a similar period.[16]

Products[edit]

The Cobra Beer range currently consists of three beers.

Cobra Premium (4.8%), an extra-smooth premium beer and is currently sold in 330ml and 660ml bottles. A draft version (4.3%) is also available.

Cobra Zero (0.0%), a non-alcoholic version of Cobra Premium and has been sold since 2005.

King Cobra (7.5%), a double fermented Pilsner-style lager.

Between them - Cobra Beers have won a collective total of 78 Gold Medals at the international Monde Selection awards, making them amongst the most awarded beers in the world.[16]

Cobra Foundation[edit]

The Cobra foundation is an independent charity that was founded in 2005 to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the establishment of Cobra Beer. Registered in the United Kingdom, the charity's mission is to provide health, education and community support for young people in South Asia, especially through the provision of safe water. The charity's primary objectives also include giving help with Disaster Relief in the Region.

As well as funding sanitation and school building projects - the company has brought two Indian doctors to the UK for three month attachments at leading training hospitals.[17]

In 2014, the Foundation launched a joint-branded bottled water with the London-based ethical water company, Belu.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "COBRA - Indian Lager Beer". TheDrinkShop.com. 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. ^ "Burton becomes the new home of Cobra beer Read more: http://www.burtonmail.co.uk/Burton-new-home-Cobra-beer/story-21498881-detail/story.html". Burton Mail. 2010-04-08. 
  4. ^ "About Molson Coors Cobra India". Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  5. ^ interview with Karan Bilimoria on BBC News website 6 August 2014 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-28439834
  6. ^ Bilimoria, Karan (2007). Bottled for Business: The Less Gassy Guide to Entrepreneurship. (1st ed.). Chichester: Wiley. pp. 46–49. ISBN 978-1-84112-726-2. 
  7. ^ "Exclusive: Mongoose bites Cobra". Brewers' Guardian. 5 July 2010. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  8. ^ Bilimoria, Karan (2007). Bottled for Business: The Less Gassy Guide to Entrepreneurship. (1st ed.). Chichester: Wiley. pp. 99–102. ISBN 978-1-84112-726-2. 
  9. ^ "King Cobra". www.cobrabeer.com. Molson Coors. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  10. ^ Bilimoria, Karan (2007). Bottled for Business: The Less Gassy Guide to Entrepreneurship. (1st ed.). Chichester: Wiley. pp. 91–92. ISBN 978-1-84112-726-2. 
  11. ^ Source: Annual Report and Accounts posted with Companies House in May 2008
  12. ^ source: ACNielsen 2009
  13. ^ Goodman, Matthew (2009-05-31). "Cobra beer saved from administration at last gasp". The Times (London). Retrieved 2010-04-30. 
  14. ^ a b Smale, Will. "How Cobra Beer regained its sparkle". news.bbc.co.uk. BBC News. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  15. ^ "Ad of the week: Cobra Beer – Meet the Boss". http://www.strattoncraig.co.uk/. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  16. ^ a b Shields, Mike. "Cobra awarded gold by Monde Selection". http://www.fdiforum.net/. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "About Us". http://www.cobra-foundation.org.uk/. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 

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]