SAB Miller beer brand Peroni

Peroni is still a hit in the UK - but lager volumes were down in Europe

Brits’ continuing thirst for Peroni Nastro Azzurro helped drive SABMiller’s lager volumes in the UK up 5% in the year ending 31 March, the brewer reported today.

The UK was a bright spot in an otherwise challenging European market, where total volumes fell 1% and lager volumes dropped 4%, SABMiller said. There were steep falls in Poland and the Czech Republic, where lager volumes tumbled 9% and 4% respectively.

The company’s group net producer revenue (NPR) – its revised reporting metric – for Europe was in line with last year, SABMiller said, although there was an improvement in the fourth quarter.

Globally, SABMiller’s group NPR for the year rose by 3%. Total volume grew by 2%, with lager volumes up 1% and soft drinks up 5%.

For the fourth quarter, global group NPR grew 2%, the company added.

“We continued to deliver top-line growth for the year, despite a number of headwinds and a challenging fourth quarter,” said SABMiller CEO Alan Clark.

“The combination of our global overview and deep local insights enables us to fine-tune our operations in each market and to deliver commercial progress, which underpins our confidence in our ability to deliver higher revenue growth in the longer term.”

In North America, volume declines were offset by improved revenue per hectolitre, the brewer said. Elsewhere, China performed strongly, posting group NPR growth of 17% on volume growth of 8% for the year.

SABMiller also said that it was reviewing its 39.6% stake in South African hotel operator Tsogo Sun Holdings Ltd. The move comes shortly after SABMiller revealed plans to shake up its African management team and consolidate South Africa into an enlarged African region.

SABMiller will present its full-year accounts on 22 May.

Analyst firm Investec downgraded its recommendation to ‘Hold’.