Pilsner Urquell ups its number of beer vending machines

23-10-2007

Great Czech inventions include everything from the contact lens to lager beer and now...the beer vending machine. Following a successful six-month trial, the world famous brewer Pilsner Urquell has just announced that it is introducing more of its new pivoautomaty - machines which dispense cans of beer, just like soft drinks machines elsewhere. With the network of machines expanding - potentially even abroad - the 'smart' beer vending machine, which reads customers' ID cards and only sells to the over 18s, could be coming soon to a station or stadium near you.

The pivoautomaty, as they have come to be known, look like any other vending machine, with one key difference; as well as feeding money into the machine, you also have to swipe your national ID card through it, if you want to buy a beer. David Polnar was one of the pivoautomat's inventors:

"We can recognise a customer's age from their ID cards and passports. And the system works with all European and worldwide passports and ID cards also. This means we can recognise whether foreigners and tourists are older than 18 as well, and if they are, then they too can buy beer from our machine."

Mr. Polnar's firm took their pivoautomat to Pilsner Urquell. The brewer liked what they saw and embarked upon a six-month trial of the machine. Vladimir Jurina is the brewery's corporate brand manager, he explained why he went for idea:

"Because it was another point-of-sale for us. It is important to have other possibilities for us to sell our product. We would like to place the machines in places which are not normal outlets for our product."

Beer vending machines have been installed in hotels, sports venues and university dormitories. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the vending machines have enjoyed their biggest success amongst students:

"Figures show that the most successful machines from our point of view were placed in campuses and hostels, from which we sell more than 1,000 cans monthly."

Mr. Jurina has been pleased with sales over the trail period:

"In total, we have sold I think around 150 hectolitres, more than 150 hectolitres of beer through our vending machines. This amounts to around 30,000 cans. And now we have around 50 vending machines, but I have to say that when we started with this trial in April we only had 5."

The figures sound impressive, but is the pivoautomat's designer, Mr. Polnar, surprised by his machine's success?

"No, no, not in the Czech Republic, because the Czech Republic is world-renowned when it comes to beer consumption, and Czech people like beer."

Pilsner have the rights to the pivoautomat for the next five years, but Mr. Polnar and his firm are working on a version for export - so who knows - the beer dispenser could yet be set for world domination.

23-10-2007