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“Hero” is the new hero

SABMiller is still going strong in Africa. It was in 2008 when the brewing conglomerate gained its first foothold in Nigeria, the continent’s second-biggest beer market. Now the group has commissioned a complete new brewery there, its fifth modular brewery within four years, which SABMiller has implemented in Africa together with Krones as the turnkey supplier.

For long decades, SABMiller had been abstinent in Nigeria, a fact that was partly attributable to the company’s alliance with the French Groupe Castel, which had been represented in Nigeria for aeons. As a first step into the up-and-coming Nigerian beer market, SABMiller in 2009 bought the privately owned Pabod Brewery in Port Harcourt on the southern Atlantic coast, and followed this up straight away with the acquisition of Voltic Nigeria Limited in Lagos, a producer of table water, and of the Standard Breweries in Ibadan, to the north of Lagos. And then, SABMiller took over from Groupe Castel the latter’s brewery in Ilesha with a capacity of 800,000 hectolitres.

New brewery built in Onitsha

In 2010, the decision was taken to build a new brewery in Onitsha. The first earth-moving work at the site on the banks of the Niger were performed on 1 March 2011, whereupon in April SABMiller signed the contract with Krones as the turnkey supplier for all of the brewery’s interior equipment, that is to say the entire engineering and technology, including the utilities. SABMiller had already joined forces with Krones in 2008 and 2009 to build four new modular breweries in Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Angola.

Good preparation is half the battle

The installation work went like clockwork, even though it was interrupted by a three-week national strike in response to an increase in fuel prices”, explains Peter Stuttard, Business Development Manager of the SABMiller subsidiary Intafact Beverages Ltd. “We had a good team from Krones on site, with more than 20 staff. At peak times, there were 180 people here for the construction and installation work. It all went off very smoothly, which was presumptively due not least to the good preparatory work involved. Together with Krones in Neutraubling, ultra-meticulous import plans were drawn up in advance. All 179 containers from Krones in Germany, plus the 20 containers with utilities equipment from South Africa, arrived on site without any problems and right on time.” What’s more, prior to the start of the installation work, SABMiller sent three selected members of staff to the Krones Academy in Germany, where they were perfectly prepared to handle their future jobs; this was backed up by on-site training held later on.

Brought up to speed really fast

“Installation and commissioning by the Krones team went like clockwork. It was really impressive to see them perform. This was all, of course, conditional on detailed planning beforehand and on continuous progress monitoring”, explains General Manager D. K. Deshmankar. “Immediately after commissioning, line efficiency was still at a meagre 26 per cent, and at 65 per cent after two months. During the line acceptance-test after three months, though, we achieved 100 per cent. This was only possible thanks to excellent cooperation between SABMiller’s project team and Krones.”

“Hero” – a new beer brand is born

By the end of December 2012, sales were three times as high as the planned output. This was primarily due to the newly created “Hero” brand, which has exceeded all expectations. To brew this lager beer, not only barley malt but also sorghum malt is used, thus hitting the bull’s-eye in terms of regional taste. In addition to “Hero”, the Onitsha Brewery also makes the local brands “Grand Lager” for the region around Port Harcourt and “Trophy Lager” for the west of the country, plus SABMiller’s international brands “Castle Lager” and “Castle Milk Stout”. Malt drinks account for about 15 per cent of the production output, for instance “Grand Malt” for the east of Nigeria and “Beta Malt” for the country’s west.

More than one billion US-dollars invested in Africa

Following the factory acceptance-tests in December 2011 in the Steinecker plant and that in Neutraubling, SABMiller – together with Krones – successfully acceptance-tested the bottling line and the process engineering kit in November and December 2012. On 30 August 2012, the new 100-million-dollar brewery had been officially inaugurated by the President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. On this occasion, Mark Bowman, Managing Director of SABMiller Africa, emphasised: “During the past five years, we’ve invested more than one billion US-dollars in Africa. Today’s inauguration ceremony is a visible sign of our commitment to upsizing our capacities still further, and to consolidating our position on this continent while at the same time generating some beneficial effects for the local society we’re working in.”

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