VRUMONA BACK ON THE RIGHT TRACK Murphy's Brewery stronger on Irish market through introduction of Amstel Drastic restructuring bears fruit At a much earlier date than expected Vrumona, Heine- ken's soft drinks business in the Netherlands, has returned to a reasonable earnings position following a number of lean years. The losses that the business was forced to accept for several years have meanwhile been replaced by much bright er figures. This recovery in profitability within the space of one year brings an optimistic statement from managing direc tor R. Overgaauw: "We have confidence in the future." Successful Phase II 'Light' grows Exports Indications of success In June Irish consumers were able to have their first taste of Amstel lager. New to Ireland, this brand is brewed at Murphy's Brewery in Cork and is available on draught. There are plans to start supplying Amstel in bottles and cans shortly. As Murphy's Brewery only has a keg-filling line, these supplies will be shipped over from the Netherlands. Response PAGE 8 HEINEKEN INTERNATIONAL MAGAZINE NR. 15 The Vrumona range is extensive. Some years ago Vrumona's future prospects could not be described as rosy. Because of the economic decline in the early 1980s sales of Vrumona products started to falter. The growth in consump tion stagnated and consumers also started to opt more for 'B' brands and private labels. "Vrumona's brands range consists solely of 'A' brands and that meant that we lost sales", explains Mr. Overgaauw. An internal long-term plan showed that only drastic changes would enable Vrumona to respond effec tively to the impact of these exter nal factors. In 1985 Vrumona called in an organisation consultancy bureau to identify the problems facing the business, to recommend what measures needed to be taken and to check these out against Vrumona's own ideas about the required policy changes. The bureau's findings included five recommendations to bring Vrumona back into profit: realigning the marketing strategy; reducing the export range and working out export opportunities together with Heineken Export and licensers; cutting down produc tion costs, continued automation and efficiency improvement, better planning, education and training; fourthly, a further automation of the financial and accounting department; and lastly, adaptations within the management. On the basis of the investigation Vrumona initiated the "Vrumona Restructuring" project. The project's aim was to restore the yield within three years. "That project has proved more successful than we anticipated. After only one year the losses had been wiped out and in the second year our operat ing result had already returned to profit. The workforce was reduced by one hundred employees. For many of them we were able to arrange a transfer within Heineken Nederlands Beheer (the Dutch Heineken organisation). But another element of very great importance was the way in which all employees made maximum efforts to help Vrumona through those two tense but difficult years, and they can now see with pride that their efforts have borne fruit", says Mr. Overgaauw. As there are still a few future threats and as efficiency and labour productivity can be improved still further through automation and capital investment, Phase II of the restructuring will be started shortly; the request for advice on this has meanwhile received the Works Council's approval. Phase two will last four years. Of the present 430 jobs, a further fifty may disappear in the years ahead. Implementation of the early retire ment scheme at 57V2 and natural wastage should ensure that there will be no need for compulsory dismissals. But, as it is not only the cost level but also the market position which determines the operating result, the request for advice also contains a proposal to expand the hotel, restaurant and bar sales organisation and to strengthen several functions which also have a decisive influence on the quality of Vrumona products. Mr. Overgaauw hopes and expects that the second phase can also be achieved in constructive consultation with the Works Council. Vrumona continues to set the pace not only in terms of reorganis ing but also in the soft drinks market. Growing sales volumes of its extensive brands range (Pepsi Cola, Seven-Up and Rivella as brands sold under licence), Royal Club, Sisi, Sourcy, the B3 fruit juices plus the recently acquired licence for the Isostar sports drink make Vrumona Holland's biggest soft drinks industry. The market in which Vrumona operates is a dynamic one. Though the soft drinks industry as a whole has only been growing very slowly since the beginning of the 1980s, we can see a conspicuously strong growth for the 'Light' varieties of drinks. These artificially sweetened soft drinks already account for five per cent of the total market. "In the next ten years this market share will climb further to around ten per cent", believes Mr. Overgaauw. Vrumona has responded promptly NfAMSTCL An aerial photo of Vrumona in Bunnik, near Utrecht. Each year 2 million hectolitres of soft drinks are produced here. to this trend with the launch of Royal Club Light in orange, blackcurrant, cherry and lemon flavours. Also noteworthy is the above- normal growth of Pepsi Cola. Pepsi faces severe competition and this is why it has such large-scale advertis ing campaigns. As a result the consumer sees much more publicity for cola-type drinks than for other soft drinks. The outcome is that cola consumption is growing and that both brands are strengthening their position. Holland also plays a leading role as an exporter of soft drinks. With 2V2 to 3V2 million hectolitres a year, the Netherlands is even the world's number one exporter. For Vrumona, too, the export market has meanwhile become familiar territory and exports make an interesting contribution to its operating result. This is achieved in close cooperation with the export department of Heineken N. V. and the regional offices of licenser Pepsi Cola. So, Vrumona products can really be found all over the globe: from Russia to the Caribbean. forms part of this strategy", says Mr. Vuyk. For the Amstel lager launch campaign Murphy's Brewery is using TV commercials, posters and promotional activities in pubs. Amstel lager is being introduced under the motto 'If you're more into having a beer than talking about it.' The management of Murphy's Brewery is firmly confident about the success of the Amstel introduc tion. In fact, the lager-test-brewed in Cork in cooperation with Heine ken Technisch Beheer - scored high marks in blind taste tests compared to rival brands. And the advertising campaign, devised in collaboration with Corporate Advertising, met with a good response in market research tests. The main reason behind Murphy's introduction of Amstel lager is the pronounced change in the lager market. The market is splitting up into segments and our company's strategy in response to this is to be represented with a lager brand in the most important segments. "We can now clearly see the emergence of a premium segment and that's where Heine ken lager belongs. Amstel will become our brand in the 'mainstream' segment. Last month's launch of Buckler also Heineken's Regional Marketing Manager G.J. Vuyk expects that the heavy competition will lead to changes. "We think that eventually there will be a shake-out on the lager market. Small lager brands will disappear. Our task is to ensure that, when that time comes, we've already built up a strong position for Amstel." '1 At the moment eleven lager brands are available on the Irish market and competition is keen. Industry watchers refer to the outbreak of a 'lager war' in Ireland.

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Heineken International Magazine | 1988 | | pagina 8