Plzeňský Prazdroj a. s, the leading producer and exporter of Czech beer, providing the drink to more than fifty countries all over the world, can pride itself on the continuous popularity of its products, including the famous Pilsner Urquell, which is already more than 172 years old. With its love for tradition and new technologies, Plzeňský Prazdroj proves that passion and enthusiasm for work brings tangible business results.
Where technology meets with history
The products of Plzeňský Prazdroj hardly need to be introduced to anybody – they are famous for their quality and taste in many countries of the world. Frequent winners of international professional tasting competitions of high prestige, such as the Australian Beer Awards, Brewing Industry International Awards, the European Beer Star or the World Beer Cup, they are not only Czechs’ favourites, but also enjoy growing popularity abroad. The beer is currently produced in four breweries: Plzeňský Prazdroj and Gambrinus in Pilsen, Radegast in Nošovice and the Velké Popovice Brewery in central Bohemia. Everything began in Pilsen, when in 1840 the citizens of the city, unsatisfied with the quality of the beer, initiated the construction of Citizens’ Brewery, known today as the Pilsner Urquell Brewery. The first batch of bottom-fermented pale lager was brewed on October 5th, 1842, by brewmaster Josef Groll. This turned out to be such a success that it led to creating a whole category of new beers, named ‘Pils’ or ‘Pilsner-style’, after the name of the city. Today this type of beer is so popular that nearly 70 percent of all beers produced around the globe fall within the Pils category. The political change in Czechoslovakia in 1989 brought about significant investments in the brewery. In 1995 Plzeňský Prazdroj invested over 1.4 billion Czech Crowns in a new bottling line, modern cylindrical-conical fermenters, a wastewater treatment facility and a new Gambrinus brewhouse. The company is equipped with modern and efficient production installations. Despite the state-of-the-art technology used in the brewery, the company does not cease to use old recipes and procedures. You can still find the brewery coopers, making sure that the old oak barrels and vats are kept in good condition or making new ones. The Pilsner brewmasters let part of each brew mature in oak barrels in the original cellars at the brewery, just as their predecessors did back in 1842. This enables the brewmasters to compare the taste of the traditionally manufactured beer with the one brewed in contemporary process and ensure that the taste and quality of Pilsner Urquell has remained unchanged for more than 172 years. In 1999 Plzeňský Prazdroj became a member of the SABMiller group and another three years later, it merged with the Radegast Brewery and Velké Popovice Brewery, establishing a joint-stock company, Plzeňský Prazdroj a.s., number one on the Czech beer market. This, of course, inclined the company to introduce new investments in technology. In 2006 a new packaging plant, costing ca. 1 billion Czech Crowns was opened, becoming the most modern facility of the kind in Central Europe. In 2013, in turn, a new line called Flavourland for 143 million Czech Crowns was launched, where flavoured beverages, such as mixed beer-based drinks, Kingswood cider and wheat beer are produced. The company clearly observes the new trends in the development of the beer industry, investing in new areas, as the demand for premium and specialty beers on the Czech beer market is constantly growing.
With the modern taste in beers turning into the direction of quality and special experience, the leader of the Czech beer industry obviously could not fail to respond to it. In this segment the company focuses on partially fermented apple juice, the Kingswood Cider, now available in bottles and on tap at over 2 000 Czech bars and already a success. The company’s specialists were working on its taste for about a year in order to match it perfectly to the Czech consumers’ liking. The brewery can also be proud to see that in the segment of alcohol-free beer its Birell Semi-Dark and other flavoured products enjoyed growth of up to 30% last year. Recently the company has launched an unpasteurized variant of Gambrinus beer and made Radegast, using three types of hops grown in Moravia, even more bitter than it used to be, which has been warmly welcomed by the consumers. Despite all of the company’s innovations and new products, Pilsner Urquell, brewed to the original recipe, with unchanged production procedures, remains to be the Plzeňský Prazdroj’s flagship brand, becoming the most famous and iconic Czech beer brand worldwide and also establishing the success of the whole country as a brewing power already in the 19th century. However, the other products of the brewery have also gained significant recognition. Velkopopovický Kozel is the best-selling Czech beer abroad by volume, while Birell is the most popular brand of non-alcoholic beer in the Czech Republic. The Plzeňský Prazdroj’s portfolio is so broad that there is little something for everyone. The company thinks both of the existing and the new consumers, constantly seeking new opportunities and launching innovations which give rise to whole new beverage categories, while maintaining their traditions, finding them to be the key priority in the business operation.
Although the success of an enterprise is largely attributable to ideas and technologies, it could never be achieved if it wasn’t for the people. Plzeňský Prazdroj employs about 2,000 people in its breweries and Prague headquarters. In addition, it creates over 22,000 jobs indirectly across the Czech Republic. The company has been recognized many times for its human resources policy in various professional competitions. Last year, for example, Plzeňský Prazdroj obtained the ‘Work and Family Audit’ certificate from the Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, which takes account of how balanced the private and professional life of Plzeňský Prazdroj’s employees is, and appreciates, among other things, the possibility to work at ‘home office’, the flexibility of their employment commitment (shorter working hours), and the smooth return to work from maternity or parental leave. The business has also been recognized by university and college students. Plzeňský Prazdroj has repeatedly placed at the top of companies they would like to work for. This is connected with the company’s active internship program for students, another year of which is starting at the moment. In addition to friendly teams, the pleasant working environment at Plzeňský Prazdroj is supported by a system of wide-ranging benefits for employees.
...and environmentally friendly
Plzeňský Prazdroj is one of the leaders in sustainable development. The company has embarked on a program called Prosper, which advances sustainability activities. These are divided into five pillars – working with suppliers and customers; promoting rigorous standards and support programs to prevent irresponsible drinking; securing clean water sources and ecosystems in the communities in which they operate; reducing waste and carbon footprint; and supporting the responsible and sustainable use of land. Particularly remarkable are the company’s achievements in reducing water consumption. As a member of SABMiller, Plzeňský Prazdroj is committed to reducing the average water ratio to 3 litres of water per one litre of beer by 2020. One of the breweries, Radegast Brewery, is now using 2.82 litres, which is a world-class result. The company also puts special emphasis on the efficient use of energy. Last year, thanks to energy-saving programs, it reduced the emission of CO2 per hectolitre of beer from 8.61 kg to 8.55 kg of CO2 per hectoliter. Plzeňský Prazdroj also ranks among the top corporate donors in the Czech Republic and is a member of the platform Business for the Society, the biggest professional organization promoting the principles of corporate social responsibility and sustainable business in the Czech Republic.
In 2014 Plzeňský Prazdroj achieved the largest growth in five years. The annual production volume surpassed the 10 million hectolitres mark for the first time in history, the growth in the Czech Republic came to 4.5 percent and on international markets – to 6 percent (nearly 3.5 million hectoliters of beer sold). The company has also strengthened its position in the Baltics and Scandinavia and increased the export to Asian countries. Its presence on the new markets, such as Singapore and New Zealand, has turned out to be successful, too, and its market share continues to grow. The demand for beer from Plzeňský Prazdroj has also grown in Asia, the UK, Canada, Ireland and Slovenia. The company’s flagship product, Pilsner Urquell has been exported for more than one hundred years; thanks to that, the Czech Republic is known even in the world’s most remote places. The history of the beer success, however, is not over. The top quality and characteristic taste of Plzeňský Prazdroj’s brands, made from best ingredients, according to recipes passed on from generation to generation, enjoying popularity in 54 countries all around the globe, guarantee that the city of Pilsen will be still associated with beer, for many years to come.