B9 Beverages Pvt., the owner of Indian craft-beer brand Bira 91, will open its fifth local brewery before the end of the year as it seeks to capture swelling demand in the country for more flavorsome tipples before a planned initial public offering.
The new brewery in Madhya Pradesh — Bira’s second in the central Indian state — will initially add 400,000 hectoliters a year, Ankur Jain, the 41-year-old chief executive officer, who established the brewer in 2015, told Bloomberg News in an interview.
Known for its cartoon punk monkey mascot and backed by Sequoia Capital and Japanese beverage firm Kirin Holdings Co., B9 has tapped investors for about $50 million so far this year. Amid heated interest in India’s startup space — and their IPOs, Jain said the brewer is also preparing for its last and largest round of private fund raising set to conclude in 2021 before it pins down its listing plans.
“Consumers are looking for more flavor,” he said on the robust demand trajectory. “I don’t think there will be any slow down.”
The capacity at Bira’s new planned unit can be expanded to 1 million hectoliters — a hectoliter is equal to 100 liters (26.4 gallons) — boosting Bira’s existing capacity of 2 million hectoliters. Currently, the country’s fourth largest brewer, Bira trails foreign firms that dominate the Indian market, including Budweiser maker Anheuser-Busch InBev NV, Carlsberg A/S and Heineken NV, which owns India’s Kingfisher lager.
With sales amounting to $170 million on an annual basis, Bira is set to be profitable at an operating level within six months, Jain said. He declined to comment on the amount B9 would look to raise and the timing of the IPO.
India has seen a modest boom of upstart brewers and craft distillers in recent years, mirroring trends globally where discerning drinkers search out new tastes away from decades old brands.
It’s still a relatively untapped nation with per capita consumption low and alcohol a taboo for many sections of its nearly 1.4 billion population. India’s beer market was only worth about $7.8 billion in 2019 — a fraction of the U.S.’s $105.4 billion market, according to Euromonitor research.
While India’s beer industry was hard-hit from Covid-related lockdowns, Jain said Bira, which brews a range of lagers, stouts and ales, managed to double its sales and triple market share as many customers looked to experiment at home and took advantage of emerging e-delivery platforms.
“Competition is increasing for sure — I still think it’s very early, early stages,” Jain said. “We’re nowhere near saturation yet.”