Hilden Brewery lands export deal to Czech Republic
Lisburn-based Hilden Brewery has landed a new five-figure deal to export its beers to the world's best beer drinking country.
The firm's drinks will now be available in the Czech Republic, where the average person drinks 156 litres of beer a year.
The brewery says the deal with Czech distributor JASO, which supplies restaurants, bars and supermarkets, is the first phase of their strategy to break into markets throughout Europe.
While Hilden sells most of its beer in the UK and the Republic of Ireland, it has also recently signed a deal to distribute in Norway, Sweden and Finland.
It was earlier this year when the firm began to look to export markets in the central Europe, and it now aims to enter the market in the US and Canada in early 2015.
The family-run brewery was founded in 1981 by Seamus and Ann Scullion, and has annual turnover of more than £1m.
Mr Scullion hopes the deal will lay the foundation for a successful sales and market campaign. "Our objective is designed at helping fill the growing demand for niche beers in the Czech Republic.
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"And we feel that the quality of our Hilden products, and the fact that it provides a full flavoured alternative to the Czech brands on offer will prove to be a winning combination," he said.
The deal to supply the full range of Hilden's beers, which include Belfast Blonde, Headless Doga and Twisted Hop, came about after an Invest NI trade mission to the country in June.
Invest NI's specialist trade teams help businesses expand into export markets.
Vicky Kell, director of trade at Invest NI, said: "Hilden's success is a great example of how important it is for Northern Ireland companies, regardless of their size, to look to new markets for opportunities to sell their products.
"Exports play a vital role in growing the Northern Ireland economy which is why Invest NI works to support businesses to explore new markets through an annual programme of trade missions and other overseas events, and helps companies identify customers and partners through our in-market support service."
Mr Scullion believes people in the Czech Republic will take to the Lisburn brewery, despite the popularity of the country's own beer.
"Young people in particular have made it clear ... that they want the opportunity to sample alternatives to the country's traditional products."