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New returnable-glass line

For many decades now, Nigerian Breweries Plc. (NB) has been the undisputed top dog in Nigeria’s beer market. Founded in the 1940’s as a joint venture involving Heineken, the group is progressing its vigorous expansion, but meanwhile has to cope with stronger competition. NB operates six complete lines from Krones, for example, its most recent investment was a new returnable-glass line at its ABA brewery in 2012, which replaced two existing smaller lines.

Nigeria’s beer market is a highly interesting one for the players involved, exhibiting very good growth rates, generates decent profits, and exhibits excellent prospects for the future. According to Heineken’s estimates, Nigeria’s breweries sold 16 million hectolitres of beer in 2008, for a turnover of more than half a billion euros. In 2012, sales can be expected to have risen to just under 21 million hectolitres. NB/Heineken remains the undisputed front-runner, followed by Guinness and SABMiller.

Pioneer on Nigeria’s beer market

NB ranks as a pioneer on Nigeria’s beer market, having been founded back in 1946 as a joint venture between Heineken and the United Africa Company (Unilever at the time). It was in 1949 that the first bottle of Star Lager left the newly built brewery in Lagos, and it is still Nigeria’s most popular brand of beer. Over the course of decades, NB has achieved strategically favourable positioning in all parts of this huge country: in 1957 by inaugurating the Aba brewery in the east of the country, in 1963 with Kaduna in the north, and in 1982 with Ibadan in the west. In 1993, NB acquired its fifth brewing facility, in Enugu, and in 2003 built its sixth, the Ama Brewery at Amaeke in the eastern province of Enugu, which meant operations at the old Enugu Brewery could be discontinued in 2004. Ama is still the largest plant today. In 2008, NB expanded its portfolio yet again, with a malthouse of its own in Aba, in which locally grown sorghum is malted, which NB uses in different concentrations not only for the Heineken and Amstel brands but also for all its varieties of beer.

NB took over Sona Systems in 2011, with two brewing facilities in Ota and Kaduna, plus Life Breweries in Onitsha, increasing its overall production capacity.

Six complete lines from Krones

“One of NB’s big advantages is the densely meshed sales network, which we have purposefully built up over the years with our wholesalers”, explains Celestine Igbukolo, Nigeria National Engineering Manager at NB. “Despite the capacities we still have available, we have to do some more upsizing, because our overall growth is so strong”, he emphasises. The filling capacity of the brewery in Aba, for example, has now been increased, by installing the new Krones line in the autumn of 2012. A similar expansion project is being planned for the brewing facility in Ama for 2014.

Ups and downs in Aba

The brewery in Aba, which serves the markets around Aba and Calabar in the south of the country, has a volatile history behind it: built in 1957 with a capacity of 500,000 hectolitres on a site measuring 12 hectares, it saw its production come to a standstill during the Nigerian civil War in 1967, not to resume until 1970. But when in 2005 NB inaugurated the huge new brewery in Enugu, Aba was no longer producing very much at all, because the market was not generating sufficient demand. In 2009, NB decided to upsize the capacity in the brewhouse and the cellar for which Krones had already installed another bottling line at the end of 2008. And with this line, beer bottling once again resumed in Aba Brewery.

In 2012, finally, capacity was once again upsized by commissioning a canning line and the new returnable-glass line from Krones. Following the removal of the two older lines, Aba will be using only the two Krones lines from 2008 and 2012, plus a new canning line. By the end of 2013, the brewhouse and the cellar will also have been expanded to accommodate this capacity.

“We speak the same language.”

“The installation and commissioning of the new complete Krones line in Aba went off very well”, to quote Celestine Igbukolo. “The support we get from the Krones LCS Center West Africa is simply brilliant. We speak the same language.” This is thanks not least to intensive collaboration in the fields of training and spare parts supply. “Every machine, every line, includes training of our staff by Krones. We insist on that”, explains Celestine Igbukolo.

Maintenance agreement with Krones

In addition, back in 2002 NB had signed a service level agreement with Krones, specifying the maintenance intervals between visits by Krones’ technicians, which are being gradually extended to match the capabilities, acquired NB’s own staff. “This is working very well”, says Celestine Igbukolo. Overall, Krones’ presence in Nigeria with the LCS Center is extremely important for our investment decisions.”

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