Nile Special exports stoke beer war to Kenyan market

Crown Beverages Kenya chief executive Gareth Jones displays a bottle of Nile Special during an interview in Nairobi on Wednesday. Monitor Photo

What you need to know:

Standard. Beer’s low pricing and high quality set to make it popular.

SABMiller, Nile breweries Limited’s parent company, has raised the competition bar with the introduction of Nile Special, one of Uganda’s most popular beers, in the Kenyan market.

The move is set to revive rivalry between SABMiller and East African Breweries Limited (EABL); the two dominant beer makers in the region.
SABMiller has been exporting Nile Special from Uganda for the past one month, pricing the drink up to Shs871.5 lower than Tusker, EABL’s flagship beer.
“When Nile Special was introduced in Western Kenya, it quickly became apparent that the brand had wide acceptance across a diverse consumer group,” said Crown Beverages Kenya managing director Gareth Jones in an interview.
“Following this success, we decided to expand the brand’s footprint and make it available nationally from March this year,” he added.

The beer, which is brewed at SABMiller’s Nile Breweries located in Jinja, has been selling in Kisumu and its environs since late last year on a pilot basis.
Crown Beverages Limited, bottlers of Keringet drinking water and a subsidiary of SABMiller, is now distributing the beer nationwide from distribution sites in Mombasa, Nairobi, Molo and Nyeri.

Nile Special marks the first major beer launch by SABMiller in Kenya since 2012 when it re-introduced Castle Milk Stout to take on EABL’s Guinness beer.
EABL had a week earlier launched Snapp, an apple-flavoured alcoholic drink positioned to win market share from Redds, a SABMiller brand.
The almost simultaneous product launches reflected the intense battle between the two brewers which dates back more than a decade with the building of Castle Breweries production plant in Thika.

brand popularity
Mr Gareth Jones said the pricing of Nile Special, “its quality” and alcohol level — which is higher than most premium beers — are bound to shore up the brand’s popularity.