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The east Slovak SARIS Brewery

The east Slovak SariS brewery has celebrated the 35th anniversary of its establishment. The company’s results achieved so far show that it is one of the most progressive breweries in Slovakia.

In August 2001, the SariS brewery produced its 20 millionth hectolitre of beer since the beginning of the firms operation in 1967. Last year, the brewery made a profit of over 130 million SKK, about 3 million EUR. Sales increased by 16 percent, reaching 1.4 billion SKK or 30 million EUR, compared to 2000. The company also became the second largest brewery in Slovakia with a 22 percent market share behind Heineken Slovensko.

The business director of the SariS brewery, Mr. Tomas Alfoldi: In the last financial year, we recorded a 9 percent increase of sales compared to the previous year. We also reached our production limit per year. This was 1 million hectolitres of beer, which was sold by SariS. This is a very good result taking into consideration the past years of the operation of the brewery, in which we faced strong competition from other, international breweries on the Slovak market.

In April 2001, the east Slovak SariS became a member of the group Plzensky Prazdroj, which is owned by South African Breweries or SAB. The main brands produced by the group are: Saris which comprises 60 percent of the company’s production, and in addition Pilsner Urquell, Gambrinus, Radegast, Velkopopovicky Kozel and Smädny Mnich. Today, the company not only provides its beer to Slovaks but also to foreign consumers. For 5 years, it has been exporting to the UK and it has also started selling to the Ukraine and Russia. Since SAB took control of the company, the SariS brewery has gone through many changes. SAB has invested over 800 million SKK or 18 million EUR in the modernisation of machinery, implementing new and more effective methods of production.

Tomas Alfoldi: We see a big potential for our company in the future. Based on the demands of Slovak customers and our experience on the market, we can say, our beer is one of the best, with an excellent taste, people like it and they are satisfied with it. The brewery is continually improving the quality of its beers and we want to continue with this trend also in the future.

Today, SariS is doing well. However, the situation was different in the past. After the velvet revolution in 1989, and later, after the split of the Czechoslovak federation in 1992, the brand SariS was not widely known outside east Slovakia. What has had to be changed since that time in order to gain market share on the Slovak market as a whole?

Tomas Alfoldi: The basic thing we had to change as regards the brand was the perception of the beer in the eyes of Slovak customers, we needed to reposition our beer so it was acceptable for the rest of Slovakia, not only the east. We also had to persuade people that our beer is good, which has proven to be the case, at the end of the day. We began with a new design for the bottle, we improved the quality and the ingredients of the beer, and also a very important part was played by our marketing activities, which contributed greatly to the growth of our brand.

Water comprises about 92 percent of the beer produced at the Saris brewery. Five years ago, the company used about 11 hectolitres of water for the production of 1 hectolitre of beer. Today, after modernisation, only 5 hectolitres are used, which represents a more ecological production. However, company officials say, there are still many things to improve. The yeast necessary for making SariS beer is purchased in Munich, Germany.

The hops come from Slovakia and the Czech republic. The malt is made only from Slovak barley, which is of a very high quality. Proof of the high quality is the gold medal won by SariS at the international competition for beer quality - Monde Selection held in France every year. Its history dates back to 1961 when it was established to analyse and test brewer products from around the world.

The SariS brewery in East Slovakia is also a guarantor of jobs. Currently, the company employs nearly 400 people. This year, it plans further investments of about 50 million SKK or over 1 million EUR.

Radio Slovakia International - 13 August 2006
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