Beer emperor’s plan to boost small firms

Help for small businesses, better access to bank funding and immigration will feature high on the political agenda ahead of the Queen’s Speech this week. Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea has strong views on all three.

Its strategy now is tied to the strength and global reach of Molson Coors, which has 2,000 UK workers and four British breweries.

A big area for expansion is pubs and bars, where Cobra currently has only very small distribution. “The next five years will see enormous expansion in that area,” says Lord Bilimoria.

He’s also eyeing further global expansion. Cobra exports to 45 countries, including Chile, Japan and New Zealand, but is small in Canada, where Molson Coors has obvious strength.

Australia is another target, and the peer believes there is great potential in India, where it has a separate three year-old joint venture with Molson Coors.

In the US, where Coors Lite is the number two beer brand, the Cobra Beer name cannot be used because of a potential clash with Budweiser’s King Cobra brand. However, Lord Bilimoria says there is nothing to stop Cobra from selling its beer in the US under another brand name.


Lord Karan Bilimoria’s CV

Age: 52

Born: Hyderabad, India

Family: Married with four children

Job: Chairman of the Cobra Beer Partnership

Other roles: Chancellor of Birmingham University; non-executive director of Booker Group; founding member of the Prime Minister of India’s Global Advisory Council

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