The market is currently dominated by Myanmar Beer, a Singapore-Myanmar joint venture, but Carlsberg Myanmar head Anthony Clark said Carlsberg aims to win by taste and understanding the needs of consumers.
“The first thing to win in this market is to have great-tasting beer and you have to have brands that are relevant to customers,” he said.
The Bago facility is already producing Tuborg and Yoma for the domestic market. Mr Clark said it plans to launch the group’s premium brand, Carlsberg, in September.
The brewery is 51 percent owned by the Danish firm Carlsberg, with Myanmar Golden Star holding the remaining share. Myanmar Golden Star is owned by local tycoon U Thein Tun, who also owns Myanmar Consolidated Media, the parent company of The Myanmar Times.
Carlsberg is the fourth-largest brewery group in the world with $9.5 billion in revenues in 2014. It has operations around the world, including in China, Russia, Europe, North America and Africa.
Mr Clark has been with the brewery since November of last year. He said his recipe for success has been “don’t stand still”.
“What I like about Carlsberg is it’s all about celebration and great moments. Going out, having beer with friends is something I’ve always enjoyed doing and now I’m part of the company that brings that enjoyment to so many people.”
While the Carlsberg brand is set to launch later this year, it has two brands – Tuborg and Yoma – already on store shelves. The two were the subject of considerable market research before they were launched.
“We have crafted Yoma as a unique beer that meets local beer preferences,” he said, describing Yoma as a “perfectly balanced beer made with fine Bago rice”.
Yoma – which means “mountain range” in Myanmar language – is a beer that is unique to the local market, while Tuborg and Carlsberg are both international brands.
“Our consumers and customers are at the heart of every decision we make,” Mr Clark said.
“There’s a lot of work to do with the brands we’ve launched and you have to satisfy the needs of the channels and the outlets and you need to understand the draft beer environment to be successful in winning.”
Mr Clark credits Bago Region chief minister U Nyan Win with support for the brewery investment and the positive impact it has on local employment.
“The local government bodies have bent over backward to support us and chief minister U Nyan Win has a vision to improve the quality of life for people,” he said.
With 150 employees, 60 of whom work in Myanmar Carlsberg’s office in downtown Yangon, the group is gearing up with sales, marketing and technical teams. Much of the focus is on draught beer, which Mr Clark says accounts for 50pc of beer sales.
Mr Clark previously worked out of Singapore with American company Lexmark, and then food firm Heinz in Jakarta. The Heinz experience in Indonesia was his first working at the front lines of a fast-moving consumer goods operation.
“I learned how important it was to be in tune with your consumers and your channels,” he said.
“Myanmar Carlsberg has some great people too, and as we grow we aim to pull together a really strong and capable team here in Myanmar.”
At Heinz, Mr Clark had 200 employees in his department and changed the landscape by bringing in more technology and standard practices.
“Similar to companies here in Myanmar, you would find a lack of automation and a mass of people doing routine jobs because of a lack of technology being applied in the business. Being able to modernise that business was hugely rewarding and challenging,” he said.
Still, Myanmar presents a new range of opportunities for Mr Clark’s Carlsberg.
“Myanmar is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before,” he said.
“Even in the short time I’ve been here there has been an amazing amount of change and I can only see that progressing. That provides everybody an enormous amount of opportunity, including Carlsberg, and that’s what we hope to take advantage of.”
Source: Myanmar Times