Vietnam’s Saigon Beer Alcohol Beverage Corp (Sabeco) has been on a journey of transformation over the past year, culminating in the recent relaunch of its flagship brand beer brand Bia Saigon.

It’s a year since ThaiBev gained control of the management board of Sabeco, having a year earlier acquired a majority stake when the state-owned brewer was sold off, and announced its intention to reform the company and make it more efficient.

That began with initiatives around packaging and logistics as well as investment in new production capacity and the introduction of a performance-based salary structure aimed at motivating employees. But branding was also an issue as Sabeco General Director Bennett Neo admitted the brand portfolio had been “all over the place”.

The latest activity has been focused on brand rejuvenation, with a recent overhaul of the look of its flagship Bia Saigon brand, designed to reflect the different features of the three products in the family: Bia Saigon Special, Bia Saigon Export, and Bia Saigon Lager.

“The introduction of the new look of our flagship brand, Bia Saigon, is part of a holistic campaign to rejuvenate the iconic, beloved brand of the Vietnamese people,” said Neo.

“Currently, we are also looking at the other brands in our portfolio and planning similar initiatives to help them maintain their relevance and affinity with consumers,” he added in remarks reported by Vietnam Investment Review.

“We are focused on strengthening our capabilities to ensure that we have a good foundation on which we can sustainably grow our business,” Neo explained. “The Bia Saigon relaunch is the culmination of these preparations and embodies the company’s renewed focus on the Vietnamese market.”

While the focus is on the domestic market, ThaiBev last year indicated an ambition to expand its overseas business from 40% of annual revenues to 50% by 2020. While most of that will likely come from Vietnam’s immediate neighbours in the Greater Mekong Delta – Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar – the Thailand connection has opened some new international avenues for Sabeco.

Bia Saigon is the shirt sleeve sponsor for English Premier League football club Leicester City, owned by Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha who tragically died in a helicopter crash after a watching a home game last October. 

Sourced from Vietnam Investment Review, Nikkei Asian Review, Viet Nam News, Leicester City FC News; additional content by WARC staff