B9 Beverages, the maker of Bira craft beer, saw the slowest growth ever due to production delays while losses doubled after an expensive nationwide marketing deal, in a crowded market dominated by mainstream brands such as UB’s Kingfisher, Carlsberg and Budweiser.
Sales at B9 Beverages rose 15% to Rs. 183 crore from Rs. 158 crore in FY19, while net loss increased to Rs. 202 crore compared to Rs. 101 crore a year ago, according to its financials filed with the Registrar of Companies.“We had tepid growth last year largely on account of delays in commissioning our new brewing capacity and were maxed out in terms of production. Our new breweries that were supposed to go live in FY19 only went live in second half of FY20. As a result, we were unable to launch new products or expand to new territories,” said founder Ankur Jain adding that growth has sharply recovered. “We expect to close this fiscal at nearly 100% y-o-y volume growth, at gross margins per case which are two time of industry.”
Losses were higher mainly due to a one-time expense related to bankers fees for a fundraise it did in FY18 as well as a mega-cricketing sponsorship deal. Last year, the company partnered the International Cricket Council to become the official sponsor for global tournaments including the Cricket World Cup, T20 World Cup and Women’s World Cup.
The company also launched a mainstream beer brand — Boom —last year and said it crossed over 2.3 lakh cases in in dispatch within two months.
India remains one of the largest beer markets for global brewers with more than 20 million people entering the legal age for drinking every year. The number of Indian bars that are increasingly stocking Belgian Witbier and German Hefeweizen style wheat beer are on the rise, especially after mushrooming of microbreweries, a trend Bira cashed in nearly four years ago.