Ownership Of Stella Artois Throughout The Years


Stella Artois, which is an international pale lager, is one of the most well-known beers worldwide. This is also partially because of the fact that it has a strong foothold in the American market. However, not many people know precisely who owns the Stella Artois brand. In this blog, we’ll discuss the rich history of owners. Let’s start with a quick answer:

Since 2008 Stella Artois has been owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, the largest brewer globally that also owns brands such as Bud Light and Corona. Before this, Stella Artois was owned by InBev (2004 – 2008), Interbrew (1986 – 2004), and brewery Artois (1901 – 1986).

However, that certainly doesn’t tell the whole story. Below, we’ll explain from beginning to end who started the Artois brand name, how they developed it throughout the years and how often and why the brand switched owners. Read on!

A History Of Stella Artois Ownership

The Artois Family (1717 – 1840)

The first time the name ‘Artois’ appeared in the history books was in 1717 in Leuven, Belgium. This is because Sebastian Artois bought the brewery ‘Den Hoorn’, which had been around since 1466. At that point, he had already been a brewer at the brewery since 1708. However, Sebastian Artois was just accepted into the brewing guild of Leuven, which allowed him to own a brewery. However, only 9-years after he bought the brewery Sebastian Artois died at 45.

Barbara Hermans, his wife, took over the brewery after Sebastian’s passing. In 1733, Adrian Artois, the only living son of Sebastian Artois, became head brewer and took over the brewery. He would hold this position for 50 years. After the passing of Adrian, the brewery was passed on to his only kid: Jeanne Marie Artois.

Nephews And Daughters (1840 – 1901)

In 1840, Jeanne Marie Artois died without having a successor, and the complete family heritage of the Artois family, including the brewery, was passed on to their good friend, nephew, and manager Albert Manreffe. Albert Manreffe passed away in 1869 and left the brewery to his nephew: Edmond Willems.

When Edmond Willems died in 1895, he also didn’t have any male successors. Therefore, the brewery was left to his two daughters, Elisabeth and Amélie.

Brouwerij Artois (1901 – 1986)

In 1901 Elisabeth and Amélie founded the ‘Brouwerij Artois N.V.’, a limited liability company. When this company was created, Stella Artois as the beer we know it today didn’t exist yet (it was introduced during Christmast time of 1926). If you want to know more about how Stella Artois was invented and what the brewery made before that, read this blog we wrote earlier. If you want to know how I think the current product taste, read this blog.

Brouwerij Artois’s strategy throughout the decades was to buy other Belgian breweries to guarantee their survival. Below is a list of the breweries Artois purchased over the decades:

  • brewery Vandenschrieck (1928)
  • Chevalier Marin (1954)
  • Loriers (1958)
  • Meiresonnne (1964)
  • Jack-op (1967)
  • Dommelsch (1968)
  • Mena (1969)
  • Grade (1971)

In 1971 the Artois company realized that all the acquisitions they had done up until that point weren’t enough to make sure the brewery would survive in the upcoming decades. Therefore, the brewery made an illegal deal with another sizeable Belgian brewery named Piedboeuf. Piedboeuf was the brewer responsible for the Belgian beer Jupiler. This way, they could control the Belgian market without the public knowing about it.

The Artois family controlled 88% of the shares of this partnership. Furthermore, the partnership continued their acquisitions by taking over the following breweries:

  • Martinas (1973)
  • Leopold (1976)
  • De Gheest (1979)
  • De Kluis (1985)

Interbrew (1986 – 2004)

In 1986 the IRS held an unannounced inspection at the Artois brewery, and they found out the company was involved in fraud. Furthermore, they found out the actual structure of the company (including the illegal partnership with Piedboeuf), which meant they officially had to merge with this brewer in 1987. The ‘newly’ founded company was named Interbrew. Shortly after, the company also acquired the Belgian brewers Lootvloet and Belle-vue.

Interbrew continued its international expansion when it acquired the Candian brewer’s Lakeport Brewing Company (1992) and the Labatt Brewing Company (1995). The UK market was further expanded by acquiring Bass and Whitebread (2000) (in the UK it’s also known as ‘wife beater’ and the beer has an alcohol percentage of 4.6% and 129 calories).The German market was entered in 2001 when they acquired Diebels and Becks & Co.

InBev (2004 – 2008)

In 2004, the Belgian Interbrew (the third-largest brewer globally at that time) merged with the Brazilian AmBev (the fifth largest brewer globally). They became the largest brewer globally, with a market share of 14%.

Anheuser‑Busch InBev (2008 – Present)

In 2008, InBev got a $46 billion offer from the American brewer Anheuser-Busch. They accepted the offer and the company became the largest brewer in the world. Furthermore, it became responsible for brewing three of the top beers globally (Bud Light, Budweiser, and Skol). In 2012 this group also acquired Grupo Modelo, responsible for the brewing of Modelo, Corona, Victoria, and the majority of all Mexican-produced beers.

In October 2016, Ab InBev acquired their most significant competitor SABMiller (which was a merger of South African Breweries (1947), Foster’s Group (2011), and Meantime Brewery (2015)). At that point, Ab InBev owned approximately 400 beer brands, of which Stella Artois was one.

Sources

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