Heineken released its H1 results today

Heineken released its H1 results today

The head of Heineken has warned investors to “buckle up” as economic uncertainty leaves the Dutch brewer with a “volatile” outlook.

The group's chairman & CEO, Jean-François van Boxmeer, told analysts in a call today (21 August) there is “turbulent weather” in the global marketplace. But van Boxmeer said the group will continue to expand into new markets with higher growth potential than developed markets such as Western Europe, where demand has weakened this year.

“You have to surf the wave, you can't break the wave,” van Boxmeer said.

The CEO was speaking after the release of disappointing first-half results, which Heineken blamed on high unemployment and weak consumer demand in its core Western Europe market.

Developing markets, however, delivered 7% organic operating profit growth and van Boxmeer said the brewer is “transforming the footprint of our business” towards markets with young population growth, high urban growth and developing middle classes.

Nigeria is one of Heineken's biggest developing markets, accounting for about half of the group's African earnings, but van Boxmeer said a slowdown in the country is “taking longer than anticipated” to recover from.

“Nigeria is a market of solid growth but the question is, will we see that in Q2 or will it be next year?” he said.

Heineken has owned a brewery in Nigeria since 2003, however the country's high growth slowed down in Q2 last year. At the time, van Boxmeer said “we don't think that (the slowdown) is a trend going forward”, but growth has remained sluggish due to inflationary pressures.

Van Boxmeer today remained bullish about Nigeria's potential. “In developing markets, there are blips, but they are not going to stop the emerging middle class phenomenon,” he said.