Danish brewer Carlsberg has agreed to buy soft-drinks maker Britvic for £3.3bn in a deal which aims to save around £100m over five years through supply chain, procurement and administrative efficiencies, the company announced today (8 July). 

Carlsberg also announced it is also buying brewer Marston’s 40% stake in Carlsberg Marston’s Brewing Company (CMBC) for £206m. Carlsberg said Marston’s would remain an important partner in the business with its long-term drinks supply and distribution agreement remaining in place.

The deal to buy Britvic raises questions about the future of Britvic’s current contract with Eddie Stobart and Wincanton. Stobart manages the manufacturer’s UK transport operations whilst Wincanton operates Britvic’s Lutterworth NDC warehouse.

XPO currently provides transport and distribution services for Carlsberg in the UK, managing over 400 million litres of Carlsberg beer per year with an integrated logistics solution for brewery production, warehousing and distribution.   

Carlsberg is understood to be looking at how best these distribution functions can be combined to improve their reach and effectiveness.

As part of the CMBC joint venture, Carlsberg owns and operates three breweries and the largest distribution and logistics network amongst UK brewers with 15 nationwide depots, servicing around 7,000 independent direct customers across the UK and moving 16% of UK draught beer volumes.

In 2021 CMBC consolidated its secondary logistics network into a single in-house solution for customers. Before Carlsberg UK and Marston’s Plc teamed up in November 2020 Carlsberg outsourced its secondary logistics to DHL Tradeteam.

Announcing the agreement to buy Britvic, Carlsberg Group chief executive Jacob Aarup-Andersen said: “With this transaction, we are combining Britvic’s high-quality soft drinks portfolio with Carlsberg’s strong beer portfolio and route-to-market capabilities, creating an enhanced proposition across the UK and other markets in Western Europe.

”The proposed transaction is attractive for shareholders of Carlsberg, supporting our growth ambitions, being immediately earnings accretive and value-accretive in year three. We are excited about expanding ourglobal partnership with PepsiCo and believe that the longer-term opportunities will be very beneficial for both companies.

He added: ”We are pleased that the Britvic board is unanimously recommending our offer to Britvic shareholders.We look forward to welcoming Britvic’s employees into the Carlsberg family and creating an exciting,combined company for all employees.

”We are committed to accelerating commercial and supply chain investments in Britvic, and we are confident that Carlsberg Britvic will become the preferred multibeverage supplier to customers in the UK with a comprehensive portfolio of market-leading brands.”

Britvic also has an exclusive licence with PepsiCo in Great Britain and Ireland to make and sell Pepsi Max, 7UP, Rockstar Energy and Lipton Ice Tea.

PepsiCo Europe chief executive Silviu Popovici, welcomed the deal. He said: “We are looking forward to building on our long-standing and successful partnerships with both Carlsberg and Britvic. We believe that the combination of Carlsberg and Britvic will create even stronger sales and distribution capabilities for our winning brands in important markets. We look forward to continuing to expand the partnership into further important markets in the future.”

A request for more information on how Carlsberg’s plans for integrate Britvic’s transport operations into the group has yet to receive a response.