Pubs must learn from Starbucks to survive, says AB InBev chief

By Claire Dodd Claire

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Stella artois cidre Stella artois Leuven Inbev brands

Pubs need to up their game and behave more like Starbucks if they are to survive, according to the UK chief of the world's largest brewer. Stuart...

Pubs need to up their game and behave more like Starbucks if they are to survive, according to the UK chief of the world's largest brewer.

Stuart MacFarlane, president of AB InBev UK, also urged licensees to embrace new things - and blamed the industry's lack of growth on an all-round failure to adapt and innovate.

"Pubs need to think more like world class retailers," he told The Publican​ at the launch of the latest Stella Artois spin-off brand, Stella Artois Cidre. "The benchmark can no longer be the traditional pub. They should be benchmarking against Starbucks.

"I would ask publicans to embrace things that are new in the industry because that is what will move our industry forward."

He also called on brewers to look to global companies in terms of standards. "We have to stop thinking like brewers and start thinking like consumer goods companies," he said.

"A consumer goods brewer should be using Proctor and Gamble and Nestlé as their benchmarks."

Meanwhile, MacFarlane has caused controversy in the cider industry with remarks about AB InBev's surprise venture into cider. Stella Artois Cidre is described as a premium crafted Belgian cider.

"I don't think the cider category is premiumising fast enough nor has had its next flowering of growth," said MacFarlane. "I think we bring that. Stella Artois stands for premium, quality, heritage and craft."

But cider makers, including Suffolk-based premium cider producer Aspall, have reacted angrily to the comments.

Geoff Bradman, Aspall commercial director said: "I am struggling to recognise the attributes of 'craft' and 'heritage' with respect to Stella Cidre which Stuart MacFarlane refers to.

"Its positioning appears to be more directly aligned with Magners, Bulmers Original and Gaymers; it's to be launched in pint bottles and 440ml cans, it's 4.5 per cent ABV and has the same serve suggestion as an over-ice brand."

However Bradman added: "We're not fearful of any new entrant into the cider market. We welcome it. A new player gives consumers more choice and Stella Cidre will bring significant investment to an already buoyant category."

Plans of how the product will be bedded into the on-trade are yet to be confirmed. However the multi-million pound launch at Easter will involve new glassware and a sampling campaign.

Related topics Beer Cider

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more