Fruity malts

Promoting non-alcoholic beverages in the region, Aujan Industries looks set to take its malt-based beverage, Barbican, to the next level

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By  Lynne Nolan Published  July 30, 2006

|~|BARBICAN-WEB.jpg|~|Aujan Industries now plans to promote Barbican to out-of-home channels; particularly the hotel and restaurant trade. |~|First launched in Saudi Arabia in 1983, Barbican’s non-alcoholic malt beverage set the wheels in motion for alcohol-free drinks. Over 20 years later, there are now plans to promote the brand to out-of-home channels; particularly the hotel and restaurant trade, with the development of a special unit also in the pipeline. Although beginning with just a malt-flavoured beverage, back in 1988 Barbican launched a lemon-flavoured variety, followed by raspberry in 1996. A year later, an apple flavour was introduced, which coincided with the extension of the brand’s sales and distribution network to the Middle East, as it became part of Aujan Industries. Becoming part of the Saudi-based group in 1997 was key to gaining greater knowledge of the Middle East market. Previously owned by Bass Brewery UK, by joining Aujan it expanded its reach, encompassing the Middle East, Africa and the CIS markets. Since then, Aujan has taken Barbican to the next level, introducing a number of further varieties, including peach, strawberry and pineapple, in order to capture a wider audience. “Barbican is a self-starter. Three years ago we looked at our brand portfolio and identified it as one of the major potentials for the company,” comments Tolga Sezer, head of marketing, Aujan Industries. Established in 1905, Saudi-based Aujan Industries has recently rolled out a major marketing campaign for Barbican, highlighting the brand’s flavours and new image. With plans to increase its presence in the hospitality sector, Barbican is also set for expansion into new markets, with plans underway to distribute the products in Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. Manufacturing drinks such as Rani, Vimto and Hani, Aujan Industries has a long history in the beverage sector, and as such, is keen to promote Barbican in hotels and restaurants in the UAE and Riyadh, targeting alcohol-free chains like the Taj group. Available in seven flavours, and labelled by some as a non-alcoholic beer, Sezer is adamant that Barbican be categorised as a malt-based or ‘new age’ beverage, and he says its biggest competitors are brands like Red Bull, as opposed to beers like Fosters or Heineken. “Why would people go for a beer replica? Our strategy is different. I would define the competition as isotonic and energy drink products as we have nothing to do with alcohol,” comments Sezer. Although it has a firm client base in the UAE, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, as part of its marketing plan Aujan decided to redesign and repackage the bottle, transforming it from old-fashioned colours to ‘slim and sexy, with superior graphics.’ “Our research showed that malt beverages have a lot of potential in the new age beverage segment,” Sezer explains. “As such, we met with youngsters and asked them what they would change about the product. They responded that the bottles should be longer and different colours,” he adds. As part of its efforts to expand its consumer base, Barbican also hopes to create special customised zones, including standalone outlets, partnerships with beverage outlets, and sponsorships with cafés. However, in order to sustain the brand’s popularity and to cope with increased demand, the company rang in the start of this year with the opening of its state of the art facility at Dubai Investment Park, which boosted the company’s manufacturing capacity by over 50%. ||**|||~|SEZER-WEB.jpg|~|Tolga Sezer, head of marketing, Aujan Industries.|~|Since the acquisition of the trademark over 20 years ago, Aujan has been importing the product from European contract manufacturers, but with the opening of the plant, the company is now manufacturing Barbican in the region for the first time. “All of our competitors’ products are imported, whereas we now offer on-shore production. This has reduced costs for us immensely,” Sezer comments. Barbican’s ingredients include malt, hops, citric acid, ascorbic acid and water, with malt beverage producer, Inbev, supplying the malt concentrate. Throughout the production process ingredients are measured according to batch size. It is then mixed with the operator using a touch screen to enter the standard recipe and batch size. The process of weighing, blending and mixing then commences automatically. Currently operating two production lines: one for cans and the other for non-returnable bottles, a further three lines are underway at the plant, which will take the overall manufacturing capacity to 50 million cases a year. Serving as one of the main driving forces in the company’s effort to fulfil its ‘555’ vision, the company aims to bring in US $500 million by 2009 with five brands. “We have an annual turnover of around US $35 million, and our ambition is to double this within a couple of years. Barbican is important in this plan,” Sezer comments. Already present in some of the region’s hotels, including the Holiday Inn, Le Meridien, and the InterContinental Hotel in Dammam, as well as the Hilton, Sofitel and the Crowne Plaza in Jeddah, Barbican has experienced steady growth since its inception. As the company now looks set to place Barbican in more hotels and restaurants in the region in the near future, Sezer is confident about the brand’s future. “The hospitality industry is important to future expansion, we have big ambitions, and are targeting a much bigger audience,” he adds. ||**||

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