Sun, May 19 2013
AN original Bulgarian beer brand - Kamenitza - celebrated its 125th anniversary as leader on the beer market in Bulgaria, company general manager Johan De Smet-Van Damme told the media on February 7.
De Smet-Van Damme said the brand Kamenitza had an 18-per cent share of the Bulgarian beer market in 2005, according to data from the world's leading marketing information company, AC Nielsen.
InBev, the Belgian brewing giant that owns Kamenitza, permeated Bulgaria's market in 1995, when Interbrew bought the Kamenitza brewery. Later, with Interbrew's acquisition the leading Brazilian beer manufacturer AmBev, it became InBev.
Today, InBev has a portfolio of more than 200 beer brands worldwide.
Since 1995, Kamenitza has spent more than 86 million leva on production facilities, advertising, trademarks, information systems and personnel training. Currently, the brewery, based in Bulgaria's second-largest city of Plovdiv, employs 650 people.
"Our distribution and retail sales partners, however, bring the number of people making their living on selling Kamenitza to about half a million," De Smet-Van Damme said.
In Bulgaria, InBev produces the brands Kamenitza (in light, dark, white, extra and non-alcoholic brews), Astika, Burgasko Pivo, Pleven, Slavena, Stella Artois, Beck's and Staropramen brands in three breweries in Bulgaria.
During its presence in Bulgaria, InBev has introduced a series of innovations and varieties of beer entirely new to Bulgaria, and developed the beer market as a whole, De Smet-Van Damme said.
In his view, the money InBev invested in Bulgaria was worth it in a market where the fight for the leadership is constant. More than 80 per cent of the beer sold on the domestic market is made by multinationals Heineken, InBev and Carlsberg. The two larger Bulgarian breweries - Bolyarka and Bulbrew - also produce competitive products.
The brand Kamenitza came into existence in 1881; its creators were three Swiss entrepreneurs: Rudolf Frick, Friedrich Sultzer and Christian August Bomonti. They built the brewery in Plovdiv on the location of a now non-existent hill in the city, called Kamenitza, hence the name.
In the 1890s, Kamenitza was already participating in international exhibitions and was awarded at events in Brussels, Chicago and others.
Kamenitza was the first in Bulgaria to offer dark beer, which was a risky innovation for a country where the mass consumption focuses mainly on lager.
In 1947, Kamenitza was nationalised by the communist regime and became part of the state-owned enterprise Alcoholic Beverages. In 1952, another decision by the authorities moved it to the state-owned holding Vinprom.
After the privatisation in 1995 by InBev, Kamenitza has become the main player on the local market, and since 1998, has constantly been the best-selling beer brand in Bulgaria.
To show its adhesion to the principles of corporate citizenship, Kamenitza has been involved in a series of popular initiatives, like being the official sponsor of the Bulgarian national football team and supporting different sporting events.
To celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Kamenitza brand, InBev has planned a series of events for customers, employees and partners. Special surprises will be in store for the participants at the traditional Beerfest in Plovdiv in early June this year. Gifts and prizes will be given out during this summer's promotional activities of the company across the country.
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