Fuller’s brewery increased take-home beer volumes by 9% by refusing to let retailers “hold a gun to its head” on price, according to chief executive Michael Turner.
The supplier increased London Pride can volumes by 13% and bottles by 23% for the year ending March 2004, making it one of the fastest growing premium ales in the off-trade.
Turner said maintaining a quality image had been key, and the company had on several occasions turned down listings with major retailers because of pricing rows.
“In the take-home sector, if a large customer holds a gun to our head we are happy to walk away,” he said. “We don’t want the beer to be sold too cheaply, it’s important they are perceived to be quality brands.”
Fuller’s has in the past week launched a new Brewery Tour four-pack of assorted beers in Sainsbury and Waitrose, accompanied by tasting notes. It sells for around £6.49. Beer and brands director John Roberts said it demonstrated the company’s commitment to selling beer through quality and education rather than price. The company outperformed the market in off-trade ale which is growing at only 1%. “Companies like First Quench (Thresher) expect higher discounts than the supermarkets for smaller volumes, so we don’t deal with them,” said Roberts.
“Those supermarkets that sell all premium bottled beers for a flat price are not encouraging consumers to trade up. They know they can only push us so far and respect us for it.”
Fuller’s Beer Company pre-tax profit rose 14% to £7.8m while the whole company increased profits 13% to £19.2m.
A £1.4m expansion project at the Chiswick brewery will increase capacity 25%, and the company also announced a major marketing push for London Pride which will launch with TV ads in the autumn.
Claire Hu