Craft brewer Innis & Gunn has formed a joint venture as it looks to woo French drinkers with its distinctive oak-aged beers.
The new business will initially concentrate its efforts on distribution within the on-trade and restaurant sectors, the Edinburgh-based firm said.
Since being founded in 2003 by managing director Dougal Sharp, the brewer has gone on to enjoy considerable export success, becoming the most popular British bottled beer sold in Canada and one of the top-selling brands in Scandinavia.
The new venture has been launched with Grupo Diego Zamora, a family-owned Spanish company and owner of Licor 43, one of the fastest growing international liqueurs.
The two firms will look to import and distribute their respective drinks brands throughout the French market. Paris-based SIP Drinks will kick off with a portfolio including Innis & Gunn, Licor 43, Villa Massa, Ramon Bilbao, Mar de Frades and Cruz de Alba.
Under the joint venture agreement, Innis & Gunn and Grupo Diego Zamora will share all financial and team resources with a view to “expand progressively”.
Vincent Heavey, general manager of SIP Drinks, said: “By bringing together the expertise and experience of both Innis & Gunn and Grupo Diego Zamora, we believe SIP Drinks will be a strong and dynamic company in the French market, which will offer an unequalled range of drinks options to on premise customers.
“With such terrific internationally renowned brands in our portfolio and the opportunity to add complementary premium brands over time, our ambition is to become a key player in the craft beer, premium wine and spirits business.”
Robert Eastham, Europe region director at Grupo Diego Zamora, added: “In the complex organisation of drinks distribution in the French market, creating SIP Drinks with Innis & Gunn is the ideal solution for Grupo Zamora and its partner to address the issues that route to market raise: brand focus, resources, attention to detail and more.”
The push into France comes hot on the heels of Innis & Gunn opening its second Beer Kitchen, a bar-come-restaurant format that initially launched in Edinburgh.