KBL Clashes with Promoters Over Events?

  • Is KBL an unfair competitor in Events Management?
  • Event organisers complain that KBL is crippling the industry
  • We use events to promote our brand – KBL

Lawrence seretse and GOSEGO MOTSUMI

Local events promoters have accused beer brewing giant Kgalagadi Breweries Limited (KBL) of uncompetitive behaviour. By engaging in event management and liquor trade, KBL has used its dominance and to sell events tickets at subsidized prices, says a collective of local event organisers who feel prejudiced.
Speaking to The Botswana Gazette, event organisers complain that through its annual music festival dubbed Summer Fresh Fest, KBL is using its dominant position in the liquor industry to engage uncompetitive conduct, as it trades its products for tickets, a practice other event organisers cannot compete with. In addition, their complaint notes that KBL is a subsidiary of Sechaba Limited, which is owned by the state-funded Botswana Development Corporation (BDC).
According to the event planners the organisation has highlighted as an example the unfair practice when Fablesfest, a promotion agency, had an MTN sponsored event headlined by Nigerian musician and producer Tekno alongside a number of local artists at a charge of P200 to P1500 (VIP) at Duma Fm grounds. Using almost the same local line up, a weekend prior to the Fablesfest event, KBL had also brought Nigerian artist Davido (Tekno is Davido’s producer) to the Duma FM ground, their cover charge was simple, spend P240 on a case of St Louis and get 2 tickets for the show. Promoters complains that this conduct contravenes the Competition Act.
Both shows attracted large audiences, and revellers only have good things to say of the massive events, but local promoters and events management agencies are threatened by the way KBL is engaging in the industry. A report leaked to this publication indicates that a collective of event planners have written to Competition Authority protesting the St Louis Fresh Festival; local promoters have confirmed their displeasure against KBL which they said is a common occurrence.
“KBL is in the business of selling alcohol. It is a brewery. Organising events is not its core business…if KBL gives out entertainment for free many local events companies and promoters will cease to exist for they can never compete with KBL in the circumstaces,” the letter read in part.
Promoters have also informed this publication that the KBL festival is “one huge free party” for patrons as they do not have to part with much money to gain access to it as it usually brings mega stars and in turn cripples other planned festivals happening on not too distant dates.
“A week ago, the offer was you buy a case of beverage and get free tickets, who can compete with that offer? Some of us are small men in this industry and it would be difficult to ask a patron to pay for a show when they can see mega stars practically for free of charge,” as a result they complained that they are forced out of business, a source said.
During a strategic meeting with the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture, Thapelo Olopeng, recently at the BNYC Hall promoters also raised the same issue that moneyed and influential corporate entities are hijacking the entertainment industry by coming up with music festivals and undercutting market prices, while some do not adhere to local line up listings because they do not include promoters with experience on how the industry works.
“At least we could be partnering because we cannot compete with these organisations because they have the resources and we have the skills. If we cannot work together they should be regulated or even stopped,” the promoters suggested.
Responding to the allegations of unfair competition, KBL said it was “not competing unfairly with other competitors. KBL produces and markets its beverage product line in various ways. The St Louis Fresh Festival happens to be one of those avenues that KBL leverages on to uplift its volumes,” adding that Competition Authority had not confronted them about the issue of unfair competition.
KBL has also been accused of replicating event ideas that have been presented to them, an allegation they deny. KBL stated that their event, The St Louis Fresh Fest, is an annual event in its sixth year and preparations for the next show start immediately after the end of a just ended show.  The promoters of Fablesfest declined to comment on the matter.