B9 Beverages, which owns and sells craft beer brand Bira 91, has raised $20 million (about Rs 153 crore) in bridge financing from two of its existing investors– Sequoia Capital India and Belgium’s Sofina.

The capital raise is also part of B9 Beverages’ larger $30 million pre-Series C equity financing round, the proceeds of which are earmarked for business expansion in India with a focus on increasing market share in the premium beer segment. Including this round, the company has now raised $130 million in funding.

In 2019, the five-year-old, New Delhi-headquartered Bira had commissioned two new breweries–in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka—in a bid to quadruple production capacity. The company now operates four breweries in India and has a presence in 400 cities across 10 nations.

“We continue to grow our business in both existing and new markets. Our market shares in several markets are now higher than 5% of overall beer, and more than 20% share of premium beer,” said Ankur Jain, chief executive of B9 Beverages.

The company had entered the mass market beer segment in February last year with its product Boom. “2020 is a key inflection point for the company where we expect to reach double-digit market share in a number of states through the year,” Jain said.

The pre-Series C round kicked off in May last year after Bira brought on board consumer-focused investment firm Sixth Sense Ventures, which invested an estimated Rs 30 crore at the time.
Bira competes with the likes of global beverages giants Anheuser-Busch InBev, Carlsberg and United Breweries, among others.

Additionally, the round has also seen participation from Korean private equity fund Neoplux and multiple family offices, whose names have not been disclosed.

Sofina, which has earlier backed Flipkart, Byju’s and Hector Beverages–the maker of ethnic drinks brand Paper Boat–first invested in Bira in 2018, news of which was broken by ET.

Separately, marquee venture capital firm Sequoia Capital, one of India’s most active investment companies, has been an early backer of the company, having first invested in 2016.

The development comes at a time when sale of alcohol in India has stopped due to the nationwide lockdown imposed by the government to stop the spread of coronavirus infection.

The Confederation of Indian Alcoholic Beverage Companies has urged states to impress upon the Centre about an urgent need to restart sale of liquor in non-Covid zones, according to news agency PTI.

Pointing out that states have already lost about Rs 20,000 crore in liquor revenue due to the lockdown, the apex body of the Indian alcoholic beverage industry has urged the Centre as well as the states to allow opening of liquor shops, besides considering online sales to check overcrowding at outlets.

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