Peroni beer

Peroni beer sales remained strong in the UK, but SABMiller’s lager volumes declined in Europe

Peroni Nastro Azzuro continued to tempt drinkers in the UK, SABMiller reported today, but the company’s overall performance in Europe over the last six months was mixed.

Overall net producer revenues (NPR) – SABMiller’s new metric for measuring performance – grew 4% in the six months ending 30 September, with beverage volumes up 2% on an organic basis. But this volume growth was driven by soft drinks, up 5%, while overall lager volumes rose a modest 1%. 

The brewer reported a good performance in emerging markets, led by Africa, and saw progress in Latin American, South Africa and Asia Pacific, offsetting weak sales in Europe.

Volumes declined steepest in Europe, with lager down 4%, and overall volumes falling 2%, driven by poor sales in Poland and the Czech Republic. The UK bucked this trend, with domestic volumes up 5% led by Peroni, but overall group NPR across the region fell 1% despite improvement in the second quarter.

Lager volumes in Latin America rose 1%, while group NPR rose 5% across the region. North America saw growth in the ‘above premium’ sector, driven by premium ales Redd’s, Tenth and Blake. Strong sales of Coors Banquet failed to offset a double-digit decline in sales of Miller Genuine Draft. US domestic sales declined 3.2% over the six months.  

Expansion in Africa continued to fuel growth, with revenues up 11%. Total volumes, driven by lager, rose 7%. “Robust” performance in South African saw NPR rise 7% there. Lager sales grew strongly with Carling Black Label back in growth. Smaller-margin soft drinks also saw increased market penetration in South Africa.

Growth in Asia Pacific was driven by growth in China, up 14% on volumes up 6%.

Chief executive Alan Clark said there were prevailing uncertainties about developing market economies but the company remained confident on its long-term growth prospects.

“Following a challenging start to the year, trading conditions in Europe and North America saw a modest improvement in the second quarter, although the consumer environments here are expected to remain under pressure,” he said.

The company’s new NPR metric measures performance based on group revenues minus excise duties and similar taxes and the group’s share of associates and joint ventures.