meantime brewery beer

The London business was snapped up by Asahi in April 2016

Meantime Brewing Company has posted a sharp reduction in profitability amid stagnant sales during its first full year of ownership by Japan’s Asahi.

The London business was snapped up by Asahi in April 2016 during a wider £2bn deal that saw the Japanese brewing giant buy a stable of former SABMiller European brands, including Grolsch and Peroni, following the mega-merger between previous owner SABMiller and AB InBev.

Meantime’s sales, including revenues generated by three licensed premises and its Greenwich brewery visitor centre, reached £19.2m in 2017, up from £15.9m in the previous nine-month financial period. However, scaling up its previous nine-month revenues to a 12-month period, the brewer’s pro-rata sales fell 9.4% from £21.2m.

Operating profits dropped from £450k in the nine months to 31 December 2016 to £231k last year, meaning operating margins fell from 2.8% to 1.2%.

Meantime increased retail and export sales during the period, with weaker sales growth in its core wholesale UK business. Retail sales rose from £294k to £787k in the period, while ex-UK sales were up from £276k to £590k.

The company’s latest accounts said it had experienced “measured distribution growth within the premium on-trade” through its key London Pale Ale and London Lager brands.

Additionally, these core brands have since been supplemented by the launch of a series of new beers from its Pilot Brewery it commissioned during the 2017 financial year.

“Off-trade and export sales have continued to grow as a result of the increasing demand for Meantime beers, supported by a rebranding of our packaging and the introduction of canes to the portfolio,” the accounts state.

However, The Grocer revealed in September that Tesco has delisted Meantime’s London Pale, Yakima Red and London Lager delisted, leaving only its gluten-free pale ale available at the supermarket.

Meantime launched in 2000 and was acquired by SAB Miller in May 2015 for around £120m as the global brewer sought to tap into the craft beer boom, but was sold less than a year later to current owner Asahi.

Asahi said in a statement: “As the pioneer of modern craft beer in the UK, we continue to invest in the uncompromising quality of our beers and the sustainable growth of our brands. Being part of a strong super-premium portfolio under the Asahi umbrella means the Meantime Brewing Company numbers are only one part of a global business.

“We are determined to invest and lead the way in modern craft beer.”