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Case Study: SABMiller

Acquia’s Cloud Site Factory Powers SABMiller to Slash Web Production Costs by over 50%

Case Study: SABMiller

SABMiller is a FTSE10 company and the world’s second largest brewer, bringing over 200 local beers and internationally renowned beers, to millions of people.

The company’s communications clearly portray its passion for brewing, heritage of craftsmanship and expertise in making great tasting beer from high quality natural ingredients. However, there was a daunting challenge: to provide consistent brand experiences across an enormous portfolio of engaging websites while simultaneously minimising risk and reducing cost.

Multiple brands, endless complexity and spiralling costs

Traditionally, SABMiller allowed local brand teams autonomy in the creation and management of their websites including production, narration, curation, and ultimately delivery to consumers. With over 200 brands across 80 countries built up through a series of mergers and acquisitions, there was a huge opportunity to deliver efficiencies and financial savings across the portfolio. This included:

  • Re-use of code across brands or countries, developing once to a common set of technical standards.
  • Consistent application of regulatory and corporate standards ranging from look and feel, to ownership of IP, to data
    handling policies.
  • Increased control over a fragmented and disparate set of technologies.

Regaining brand control

Karl Mansour, Global Deployment Lead and Programme Manager of SABMiller’s Digital Transformation Programme explained: “SABMiller needed a fit-for-purpose, secure and cost effective web platform. The challenge was to find a way to balance ‘order’ across the globe whilst maintaining the creative freedom that brand teams need to engage with their consumers.

In order to achieve its goal, SABMiller decided to work with one technology partner that could deliver a single content management system. The organisation turned to Acquia for help, and selected its Cloud platform and the multisite tools in Acquia Cloud Site Factory. This choice enabled all brand teams to create and manage multiple Drupal deployments, making it easier to rapidly build mobile-ready brand and campaign websites using powerful multisite tools.
Karl added: “Acquia’s entire offering is built on Drupal, an open source CMS, that provided the freedom to develop the best digital experiences.”

Ensuring compliance

The chosen solution delivered visibility, trust and control for efficiently governing and deploying multiple sites at scale – crucial for such a large global organisation. Furthermore, it was complemented with support from SABMiller’s incumbent delivery partner VML.

Karl added: “The agenda wasn’t about building websites per-se, it was about transitioning to a new delivery model that allowed high quality, cost effective and compliant brand experiences across the world. The natural by-product of this was taking costs out of the business and optimising the technology stack.”
During the initial phase, Acquia, VML and SABMiller worked together to create a set of ‘blueprints’ that would allow brands to build a site without making assumptions on the content or creativity. It meant using flexible archetypes, from which agencies could leverage existing code rather than starting from scratch each time. The ownership of this code means that SABMiller has more control over its websites when agencies and teams change.

By implementing a common-site architecture, SABMiller significantly reduced risk too. The company was able to ensure that every site was compliant with its regulatory obligations by implementing mandatory components of code in the DNA of every website. For example, websites for drinks brands must have an age verification tool which, if created from scratch, would be a lengthy and costly task. Acquia therefore created Age Gate, a module that could be deployed automatically.

Cutting costs and time

Since moving to the new platform, SABMiller has dramatically changed the way its sites are developed, managed and governed. To date, over 100 sites have been either been built or migrated to the Acquia environment across six regions in less than 20 months.

Beyond the improvement in speed to market, Acquia Cloud Site Factory has also significantly reduced complexity and duplication. SABMiller delivers close to 90% of its brands’ requirements through redeployment of existing code – a dramatic improvement to the previous model. The organisation now only performs occasional custom updates, making it easier for brand teams and agencies to manage their own sites.

The platform has also reduced dependency on legacy technologies that were costly to maintain. SABMiller has been able to decrease its production costs by over 50%, allowing them to build a new site for less than half the price than before.

As Karl described, the huge cost saving was a compelling investment for the organisation. He said: “SABMiller has been able to implement a web production capability that allows the organisation to fully exploit its investments, eliminate duplication, reduce risk and most importantly, allow the brands to take full advantage of best practices from across the globe. From a financial point of view, it really is a no-brainer.”


  • SABMiller has achieved a 50% reduction in production costs whilst improving security, control and consistency
  • Acquia Cloud Site Factory now delivers close to 90% of SABMiller's brand websites
  • SABMiller has built / migrated over 100 sites into the Acquia environment across six regions in less than 20 months
Using Acquia Cloud Site Factory allows the SABMiller brands to take full advantage of best practices from across the globe. From a financial point of view, it really is a no-brainer .
Karl Mansour, Global Deployment Lead and Programme Manager

Company Information

SABMiller is the world’s second largest brewer
Produces over 200 local beers, as well as international brands including Peroni Nastro Azzurro, Pilsner Urquell and Grolsch
Every minute of every day, more than 140,000 bottles of its beer are sold around the world
Over 200 brands across 80 countries built up through a series of mergers and acquisitions