Carling is waiting in the wings to make its mark

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The Scottish on-trade is patiently waiting for the Carling invasion to take hold. It's been something of a phoney war so far, with England's number...

The Scottish on-trade is patiently waiting for the Carling invasion to take hold.

It's been something of a phoney war so far, with England's number one beer brand signing up for sponsorship of both Old Firm soccer teams and opening the Carling Academy music venue in Glasgow, but registering only as a blip on the sales charts.

Tennent's continues to sit pretty with at least half the market, no matter which brewer you're talking to.

Interbrew UK has been on an in-outlet quality drive on its newly-acquired brand and still thinks new distribution gains are on the cards.

Managing director of on-trade sales Colin Pedrick says: "We think there's still an opportunity to find new outlets, particu-larly alongside Stella Artois in style bars.

"Clearly Carling is a credible English brand and they've got an opportunity in Scotland, and it would take an awful lot of money to establish a new brand if they were to try from scratch.

I'm sure they're in there for the long-term, but it's the role of the lead brand to be leading and we've got our own game to focus on."

In a curious twist, that game has already seen Tennent's seeping into north east England where it is being advertised on the back of distribution gains, while the presence of large numbers of holidaying Scots in Blackpool will see it launched on the Fylde Coast before too long.

Scottish Courage hopes consumers will see Carling as more of a substitute for Tennent's than its own Miller Beer, the number two brand in the market.

Brian Sharp, managing director of Scottish Brewers, says: "One of the key things with Miller is that, when it goes head-to-head with Tennent's, it appeals more to younger drinkers and is a session lager among 18 to 34-year-olds.

We've got Miller Genuine Draft, which is the biggest selling PPL in Scotland, and that adds to the credibility of Miller Beer.

It's also American in heritage and perhaps just seen as a little bit more interesting than the brands drunk by your father or grandfather."

Sharp says he expected Carling's assault to come through the off-trade and in national on-trade accounts.

He adds: "I think it's a very aggressive marketplace that will become even more competitive with the arrival of Carling."

Carlsberg is another brand that, publicly at least, appears pretty sanguine about Carling's arrival.

Iain Patton, Carlsberg-Tetley's director of brands, says: "I think all the brands are putting significant money into sponsorship propositions and marketing and that will stimulate sales and be helpful to the market.

I only see growth coming from the presence of Carling in the marketplace.

I think our share will be maintained and we'll ride with the growth."

As the company that in its previous guise owned Tennent's, Coors Brewers recognises the might of the brand leader and has set its sights merely on Carling taking Miller's number two slot within five years.

"The plan is to go and punch our weight and steal a fair share of business," says Carling brand director Des Johnson.

"Scotland is fair game for Carling.

We know from the research we've done in the past that there are enough Scots who are looking for a change from Tennent's.

"Miller absolutely has to be within our grasp, We're happy so far, but there's a hell of a long way to go.

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