DRINK UP: Through an exclusive licensing deal with IMG, AB InBev will be reaching out to consumers in Europe and the Middle East beyond beer bottles.

The multiyear partnership has been put in place to line up licensed products including fashion ones for Budweiser, Stella Artois, Beck’s, Leffe and other brands. In addition to beer-branded apparel, drinkers and teetotalers alike may have the option of buying licensed food and home and garden products from their favorite beer labels.

The focus on Europe is in line with the conglomerate’s heritage. Anheuser-Busch InBev is the world’s leading brewer. Based in Leuven, Belgium, the company has about 175,000 employees around the globe, including 12,000 in Europe. In addition to its Global Innovation Center in its home city, AB InBev has offices and breweries in 18 European Union member states.

AB InBev has had a bumpy few months financially, as bars, clubs and restaurants shut down due to the pandemic. First-quarter core profit was $3.95 billion, representing a 13.7 percent drop compared to last year. Despite its global volume declining by 32 percent in April, company brass recently pointed to green shoots of a recovery in China and South Korea, where businesses are reopening.

As the shutdown has dragged on, stores around the world have seen an upswing in sales of beer, hard seltzer, wine and spirits. AB InBev had a buy rating in the Bernstein Research analyst Trevor Stirling’s latest research note.

AB InBev, which includes Corona in its stable of brands, has reportedly already predicted the second quarter will be “materially worse” than the first quarter.

Delving into an assortment of consumer products is one of the ways that the Belgium-based beer powerhouse is trying to reach new consumers. IMG’s senior licensing director Natalie Horne said, “Each brand has its own rich heritage, inspiring story and creative identity giving us terrific scope for brand extension through licensed consumer products.”

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