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EABL, Diageo’s Subsidiary Accused Of Playing Dirty Tricks Threatening Shutdown Of A Competitor

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Ms Jane Karuku, EABL chief executive.

African Originals, a Nairobi-based startup behind  ‘KO’ brand popular for a range of ciders, iced teas and gins, is battling regulatory hurdles that now threatens its future and now blaming their rivals and a market giant East African Breweries Limited (EABL) for their predicaments.

In the current edition of Semafor Africa newsletter, pan African online publication, it’s alleged that EABL could be waging dirty wars against African Originals.

African Originals, a 7-year old startup accuses EABL of copying some of her products and also sponsoring tweets purported to be from customers complaining about health complications after consumption of African Originals’ products.

In a letter written by the company to EABL, they accuse the market giant of engaging Wowzi, a Nairobi-based  digital marketing company with links to top influencers and that it was this particular company that was used to wage a war online in vital tweets to defame KO.

EABL is alleged to have engaged the same digital firm that deals with ‘macro-influencers’ to give ‘authenticity’ in other campaigns.

The company also accuses EABL staff of maligning her products and incentivized supermarkets staff not to display their products.

“We are ready and willing to compete with EABL on merit through the quality and prices of our products but we are not prepared to suffer serious commercial harm as a result of their smear campaign,” African Originals chairman Henry Rudd wrote in the letter to Diageo’s general counsel in London.

In the 90s EABL had a bruising turf war with the South African brand Castle Brewery forcing the latter to close her multi million factory at Thika leading to the loss of 800 jobs in 2002.

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In 2019, EABL was involved in bottle war with Keroche Brewery with the later accusing EABL of dirty tactics to entrench monopoly in the country’s brewing industry.


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