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商业

这两家啤酒厂合并,意味着什么?

John Kell 2019年05月15日

这次合并未必完全出于战略考量,还可能掺杂着情感因素。

当我在2016年年初造访角鲨头(Dogfish Head)的精酿啤酒厂时,曾经向创始人萨姆·卡拉卓尼提出过一个问题:为什么他的同行都把公司卖给了百威英博(Anheuser-Busch InBev)和摩森康胜(Molson Coors)这样的大型企业集团?他回答道:“这是不可避免的。”

当时我和卡拉卓尼站在特拉华州米尔顿的啤酒厂里,他说:“我们那一代精酿啤酒厂的创始人都已经临近退休年龄。我不会责怪那些选择卖掉大部分公司或整个公司的人。”为了给角鲨头注入更多商业智慧,卡拉卓尼在2015年将公司15%的股份卖给了私人股本公司LNK Partners,不过他对我说,他会坚持不卖掉整家公司,如此一来,他的孩子(当时分别只有13岁和16岁)未来某一天还可能把这家他和妻子玛利亚创立的公司经营下去。

不过,不可避免的那一刻比卡拉卓尼预期的来得更早一些。角鲨头于上周四宣布,公司将接受3亿美元的现金与股票,被Sam Adams的酿造商波士顿啤酒公司(Boston Beer Company)并购。这两家美国排名前15位的精酿啤酒厂联手,可以更好地应对大型啤酒集团的竞争,以及拥挤的精酿啤酒市场给小型酒厂带来的销售压力。卡拉卓尼已经同意加入波士顿啤酒公司的董事会。

卡拉卓尼在宣布交易的博文中写道:“两家公司联手,可以更好地与那些规模超过我们50倍的大型跨国啤酒巨头竞争,尽管合并后公司的啤酒销售份额在美国也仅有不足2%。”他没有立刻接受《财富》杂志的采访。

交易达成之时,精酿啤酒厂正在遭遇着增长乏力之痛。美国精酿协会(Brewers Association)的数据显示,精酿啤酒的销售额在2018年的增长率只有3.9%,在规模达1,140亿美元的啤酒市场上仅占据了13.2%的份额。曾经有人预期精酿啤酒到2020年将会占据市场总份额的20%,不过许多因素导致了其增速的放缓。消费者的啤酒饮用量有所减少,取而代之的是更多的烈酒和葡萄酒。他们还开始青睐“大麻饮料”、含有酒精的苏打水和气泡矿泉水,甚至不含酒精的饮料。

啤酒市场的“四大”统治者百威英博、摩森康胜、星座集团(Constellation Brands)和喜力(Heineken)的收购也给行业带来了伤害。拉古尼塔斯(Lagunitas)、鹅岛啤酒(Goose Island)、岬角啤酒(Ballast Point)等被逐一吞并,削减了美国精酿协会认定的“精酿”的份额。精酿啤酒厂也开始通过合并来增强竞争力。

角鲨头和波士顿啤酒的联姻似乎是出于相互尊重的立场。在我之前的采访中,卡拉卓尼和波士顿啤酒的吉姆·科赫这两位创始人分别给予了对方高度赞扬。两家公司也都诞生于上一波精酿啤酒浪潮:波士顿啤酒创立于1984年,角鲨头则是1985年。

不过两家公司都面临着大型啤酒厂商和在消费者中引发更大反响的小型利基酿酒厂的压力。波士顿啤酒的Sam Adams上一次年销售额有所增长还是在2014年,公司的整体销售因此承担了压力,只能在非啤酒品牌上寻求突破。2018年,经销商对零售商的销量同比攀升13%,这多亏了Truly Hard Seltzer、Angry Orchard cider和Twisted Tea,而Sam Adams这个品牌又一次出现下滑。

角鲨头也遭遇困境。从美国精酿协会根据销售量制定的年度精酿酒厂排行来看,公司从2009年起就跻身前20位,之后却一直徘徊在第11名至16名之间。2018年公司排在第13位(波士顿啤酒则名列第二位)。

这次联手可以让两家公司在营销、原料采购、瓶装、标签和其他投入成本上整合力量,也让合并后的新公司在与批发商谈判时更具分量,后者可以将啤酒卖给零售商。

这笔交易有趣的一点在于,合并的这两家公司都位于美国东北地区(波士顿啤酒在马萨诸塞州,角鲨头在特拉华州),是各自大本营附近实力最强的酒厂。这与百威英博和摩森康胜采用的地区差异化战略有所不同,它们收购的精酿啤酒厂来自于美国各地。究竟这是一大利好,还是成为掣肘,还有待观察。

科赫在上周四的声明中表示:“这次联手可谓天作之合。波士顿啤酒和角鲨头都热衷于酿造和创新,我们有着共同的价值观,随着在高端啤酒领域的继续投资,我们会从彼此身上学到更多。”

因此,这次合并未必完全出于战略考量,还可能掺杂着情感因素。两家精酿啤酒厂的创始人恐怕已经意识到,如今的局势不复当年,他们得在自己被大型酒厂吞并之前大胆行动起来。(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正

When I paid a visit to Dogfish Head Craft Brewery in early 2016, one of the questions I asked founder Sam Calagione was why so many of his beer peers were selling out to large conglomerates like Anheuser-Busch InBev and Molson Coors. His response: “It was inevitable.”

“The patriarchs and matriarchs of our [craft] movement are coming to retirement age,” said Calagione, as we stood in his brewery in Milton, Delaware. “I don’t fault those that are choosing to sell the majority or all of their company.” Calagione had sold a 15% stake in his company to private equity firm LNK Partners in 2015 to bring more business acumen to Dogfish, but told me that he was holding out on a full sale so his children—then aged 13 and 16—could one day potentially run the business he and his wife Mariah built.

Inevitability came earlier than Calagione anticipated. On last Thursday, Dogfish Head announced it would merge with Sam Adams brewer Boston Beer Company in a $300 million cash-and-stock transaction, combining two of the nation’s top 15 craft brewers to better take on competition from Big Beer and a crowded craft beer landscape that’s put pressure on the smaller players’ sales. Calagione has agreed to take a seat on Boston Beer’s board of directors.

“Together, we’ll be better positioned to compete with larger international beer conglomerates that are more than 50x our size, despite our combined company’s volume representing less than 2% of the beer sold in the U.S.,” wrote Calagione in a blog post announcing the deal. Calagione wasn’t immediately available for an interview with Fortune.

The deal comes at a time when craft brewers have faced tough growing pains. Craft beer sales only grew by 3.9% in volume in 2018, according to the Brewers Association, capturing just 13.2% of the total $114 billion beer market. There had once been aspirations that craft beer would make up 20% of the market by 2020, but a number of factors have led to a slowdown. Consumers are drinking less beer, replacing it with more spirits and wine. They are discovering a number of alternatives like cannabis drinks, “hard” alcoholic versions of soda and seltzer, and even nonalcoholic drinks.

The industry was also hurt by takeovers by AB InBev, Molson Coors, Constellation Brands, and Heineken—the “Big Four” that dominate the beer aisle. Every time a Lagunitas, or a Goose Island, or a Ballast Point was acquired, it removed their volume from the beers that the Brewers Association deemed “craft.” Craft brewers also started to merge to better compete

The Dogfish Head-Boston Beer marriage seems to come from a place of mutual respect. Both of the founders—Calagione and Boston Beer’s Jim Koch—have separately spoken highly of each other to me during past interviews. Each was part of the earlier waves of the craft beer movement: Boston Beer started in 1984 and Dogfish Head debuted in 1995.

But both are facing pressure as they face a squeeze from Big Beer and smaller, niche craft brewers that generate greater buzz with drinkers today. Boston Beer’s Sam Adams brand last posted annual growth in 2014—putting pressure on the company’s overall sales, which have had to depend on non-beer brands for growth. In 2018, depletions— or distributor sales to retailers—climbed about 13% from the prior year thanks to increases for Truly Hard Seltzer, Angry Orchard cider, and Twisted Tea. But the Sam Adams brand declined again.

Dogfish Head has also been stuck of late. It became a top 20-selling craft brewer as of 2009, according to the Brewers Association’s annual statistics ranking breweries by volume. But it has muddled between 16th and 11th ever since—ranking 13th in 2018. (Boston Beer was #2.)

A deal between the two will help them combine forces as it pertains to marketing, purchasing of ingredients, bottles, labeling, and other input costs, while also giving the combined company heft to better negotiate with wholesale distributors, who sell beer to retailers.

One interesting aspect of the deal is that it combines two brewers that are regionally strongest in the northeast near their home bases: Boston Beer from Massachusetts and Dogfish Head from Delaware. That differs from the regionally diverse acquisition strategy pursued by the likes of AB InBev and Molson Coors, who have bought craft brewers from all across the United States. It remains to be seen if that will be beneficial or a hinderance.

“This combination is the right fit as both Boston Beer and Dogfish Head have a passion for brewing and innovation, we share the same values and we will learn a lot from each other as we continue to invest in the high-end beer category,” said Koch in a statement on last Thursday.

So perhaps, this deal isn’t entirely strategic. There’s an emotional element at play when two craft founders realize the landscape has changed so drastically they need to make a bold move before being gulped up by that Big Beer boogeyman.

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