Francis Agbonlahor is the Managing Director of Meta Abo Brewery that has been recently acquired by DIAGEO, the world’s leading premium drinks business with a collection of beverage alcohol brands across spirits, beer and wine. Capital’s Groum Abate sat down with him to talk about their commitment in the entertainment and beer business.
Capital: What was the controversy surrounding the sponsorship of the new Teddy Afro album?
Francis Agbonlahor: Well, we are working in partnership with the promoters and the production managers of Teddy Afro and we have a contract with them, and we’ll be working very closely with Teddy Afro and Adika Communications. I’m not aware of the controversies but I know that we are the main and exclusive sponsors, and we think it’s a rare privilege to have the opportunity to sponsor Teddy Afro’s album, and we’re really proud of what we’ve seen today at the launching of the album. We have a lot of billboards all over town with Teddy Afro pictures; I think this is a great partnership that is a start of better things to come.
Capital: Can you tell me how much you paid for Teddy Afro and how long will the contract span?
Francis: That’s a good question, like I said to you, we have a contract, for Meta and Diageo, we respect the relationship we had particularly with our key partners. So permit me to say, the money we paid, the relationship we have is not something that we should be putting out to the public. Because I have to respect that tripartite relationship, that contract didn’t say we should be talking about the fee we pay to newspapers, so permit me to respect that relationship that we have. But what I will say is that this is a significant investment, from us into the launch of this new album. Everyone, every consumer, every fan of Teddy Afro waited for him to come out with an album for several years. I think we’ve got a fantastic album and as Meta we’re very privileged and proud to be associated with the launch of this new album. We know that for example, music and dance are a key part of the Ethiopian culture, and as Diageo, like I said to you Meta beer has a strong heritage, we’re very proud to be linking up with that strong culture of Ethiopia which is about music and dance. And sponsoring the Teddy Afro album is something that we’re very proud of, this is the beginning of what would be a long term relationship with Teddy Afro, but not just with him, because he’s seen as a legend in Ethiopia and beyond, he’s also an inspiration and role model to many other musicians that are coming through, that look up to Teddy Afro and want to be like him in the future. This is the beginning of a long term relationship with Ethiopian music and we’re starting with Teddy Afro, and is just the beginning and there will be many more artists including him that we’re going to partner with in the future and we look forward to that opportunity.
Capital: How is your business picking up?
Francis: So far, so good. We’re really excited to be here as Diageo Meta Brewery, as you know the Meta brand is an iconic brand, with a strong history behind it, so we think it’s a privilege that through the process we acquired Meta Brewery. We’ve here for a little more than five months, and it has been really exciting, so business has been doing very well.
Capital: Can you tell me figures about your sales volume?
Francis: What I would say to you is year on year we’re growing double digits, in terms of percentage growth and we’re reaching out to more locations to more outlets, and bars like never before. There were many bars that were not stocking Meta coming from the history of the past, in the last five months we’ve seen many more bars through our engagement of the customer, the outlet owners, of the consumers, many more bars are now stocking Meta and we’re seeing that with Meta volumes in our business.
Capital: You are aggressively into the market now, do you think you will dominate the market shortly?
Francis: What I would say to you is competition is good for business, for the customer, trade is good for the country. Because the more competition you have the better the value, so we know that we’ve acquired an iconic business, the Meta business, we know of the fact that it used to be the number one beer brand in Ethiopia. We know that Meta beer is truly an Ethiopian beer and it’s at the heart of the Ethiopian consumers, we have no reason whatsoever not to believe that Meta beer can regain its rightful position as the number one beer brand in Ethiopia shortly.
Capital: Do you have a production capacity that can fulfill the needs of consumers?
Francis: We are efficiently using our production process in the last couple of months. We have made some changes that can increase the capacity. Moreover, right now we are investing 200 million birr in the factory for additional machines that will boost the production volume.