Interbrew, the Belgian brewing group, has announced plans to streamline its beer distribution operations in its home market in order to offer a better service to its key horeca (hotel, restaurant and catering) customers.
At present, the company's distribution to the horeca sector is carried out through two distinct channels - independent wholesalers and Interbrew's own regional distribution centres. These regional centres are now to be merged to form larger operations, allowing the company to reach nationwide coverage without using independent companies.
By the end of next year, the company hopes to have created eight new regional distribution centres and two smaller satellite units which will guarantee supplies to horeca customers throughout Belgium.
Two existing distribution centres, Jabbeke and Jumet (Charleroi), will be expanded, while a new location is currently being sought in the Ghent region. The other distribution centres are Antwerp, Hasselt, Leuven, Anderlecht and Ans (Luik). The two satellites (Marche and Malmedy) are logistic platforms that depend on the bigger regional distribution centres.
The company said its customers would receive a more efficient service because of the changes.
The costs related to the restructuring of the distribution business have already been included in Interbrew's 2002 results, and the company claimed that the positive effects of the changes would be seen within two years.
Some 27 jobs will be lost as a result of the changes, but Interbrew said it would do its utmost to find posts elsewhere within the company for all those affected.
Interbrew Belgium currently produces and distributes 44 drinks brands, including Jupiler, Stella Artois, Hoegaarden, Leffe, Belle-Vue, Safir, Vieux-Temps, Ginder-ale, CTS, Campbell's, Bass, Whitbread, Labatt Ice, Rolling Rock, Loburg, Piedboeuf table beers, Hoegaarden Grand Cru, Julius, Verboden Vrucht and Vodka Source.