​How Mahou Group Has Looked to Support US Bars & Restaurants

International Insights is a continuing series of Q&As with brewing members, but this time branching outside of the US and into the rest of the world.
In this series, Brewer will share personal insights from international breweries each week about the craft beer market in other countries, where those brewers get their inspiration, and how the market compares to craft beer in the US.

Mahou San Miguel (Mahou), ​a Spainish brewing company that is well known in the US for its investments in American craft breweries, launched “Vinyls for Good”​ this fall,​ an initiative to support its hospitality sector clients in the US and around the globe which have been affected by the global pandemic crisis. The initiative is part of Mahou’s Global Support Plan, and consists of distributing the record to Mahou client establishments in Florida, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington DC. All proceeds from vinyl sales ​are kept by the participating American bars and restaurants to help reduce the economic impact of the pandemic.
Erik d’Auchamp​, the Managing Director of the International Business Unit of Mahou Group​, shared with Brewer about the brewery’s campaign and its business involvement in the US and overseas.

​BREWER: ​Where did the inspiration for “Vinyls for Good” come from? How will this initiative help give some relief to the restaurants affected by COVID-19?
d’AUCHAMP: Since the start of the pandemic, our company has been contributing to mitigating the impact of this crisis and supporting our global hospitality industry clients who have been directly affected. In the United States, this support has materialized into “Vinyls for Good,” an initiative that enables us to help our North American restaurateurs through music. The program, which is part of our Global Plan to support bars and restaurants, consists of providing the establishments where we have a presence in the states of Florida, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Washington, D.C., with a vinyl record. Establishments can then offer the record for sale to their customers to raise funds to help offset the economic impact of COVID-19 on their businesses. “Vinyls for Good” came about thanks to our collaboration with NYHed Studio in New York. This record was recorded there with two songs by Go Cactus, a Spanish group included on the 2019 YouTube Music list along with other current Spanish musicians who have played at large festivals like SXSW in Texas. Ultimately, it was a question of launching a project to support a sector that is key for us and to which, now more than ever, we have an inescapable commitment.

​BREWER: ​What can you tell us about the history of Mahou beer and the market for craft beer in Spain?
d’AUCHAMP: Mahou is one of our most iconic brands, and it has a long history that goes back 130 years of working to brew the best beers in a country that has traditionally been a wine producer. This purpose has evolved over time, but it has always been marked by an entrepreneurial spirit and our desire to innovate.​ ​Along these lines, in 2014, listening to the demands of the market, we decided to make our first incursion into the craft segment with the acquisition of 30% of the US-based craft brewer Founders Brewing. Since then, we have focused on continuing to grow in the craft category. We were able to see its potential and have been pioneers in Spain with Founders Brewing and Avery Brewing, two of the most prestigious craft brewers in the US, of which we are currently majority shareholders, and the Spanish Nómada Brewing, which boasts various awards for the great innovation and creativity it applies to its recipes.​ ​So, at the moment, we have three brands in this segment that we are working with to offer the consumer novel and increasingly complex initiatives that will allow us to continue promoting beer culture here.​ ​As for Spain, its beer market is mature. Nonetheless, we realized years ago that it still had the capacity to absorb new offerings, and the craft segment has had a great deal to do with this. So, in 2019, we took another step in this direction with the opening of our Brew&Hub, a collaborative centre unique to Spain, that was conceived as a space for craft brewers from all over the world to brew their beers and share ideas. We invested €11 million in getting it started. It’s a space that’s open to all those nomadic companies that do not have their own brewery or which are looking to grow beyond the minimal production capacity of their facilities.

​BREWER: ​Why does Mahou Group want to enter global markets and specifically the US market?
d’AUCHAMP: At Mahou Group, we are committed to internationalization as one of our main strategic and transversal growth levers, so that’s the reason for our focus on markets outside our borders. We are the most international Spanish beer company given that we have a presence in over 70 countries and produce over 70% of the Spanish beer consumed in the world, with the United Kingdom, United States, Chile, and Italy being our principal markets.​ ​The United States is key in our internationalization strategy. We currently have two production centers in the country and, as I said before, we are majority shareholders of the North American craft brewers Avery Brewing and Founders Brewing. Our team is made up of over 160 professionals, and the beers and waters in our Mediterranean portfolio, with brands like Mahou, Cervezas Alhambra, and Solán de Cabras, are available at nearly 2,000 points of sale, both off-premise and on-premise, across the United States.​ ​With an eye to the future, our roadmap is ambitious, and we want to keep growing and evolving in other markets.

​BREWER: ​How has the strategy changed since you entered the US market?
d’AUCHAMP: Since the beginning of our presence in the US market, our strategy has always been based on two main lines. On the one hand, the marketing of our Mahou and Alhambra beer brands and Solán de Cabras natural mineral water, which, since their entrance over ten years ago, have been advancing steadily and today are available at nearly 2,000 points of sale all over the country.​ ​And, on the other, our entry into the craft segment, which is highly evolved in the United States thanks to consolidated brewers like Founders Brewing and Avery Brewing, is how we aim to continue strengthening our presence in this category.

Jon Sicotte contributed to this report

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