just On Call - Heineken CEO thanks Africa for FY confidence boost
Nigeria accounts for about half of Heineken's Africa earnings
Heineken's CEO has said a late-year rebound from Africa has helped restore the brewer's optimism after a disappointing third quarter.
In a call with analysts today after the release of full-year results today (12 February), Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said a fourth-quarter rally in Nigeria's beer market helped push Heineken's volumes in the country into positive growth for the year. Profits also improved in a market that had been struggling because of inflationary pressures, tight credit conditions and high unemployment.
Egypt, meanwhile, delivered higher profits, while Ethiopia and Burundi also increased volumes.
Asked if Africa's return to form was behind a more optimistic tone in the full-year results compared to three months ago, Van Boxmeer said: “The simple answer is, yes.”
Earlier, van Boxmeer said of Nigeria, which accounts for about half of Heineken's African earnings: “It's very difficult to make projections but what I do still believe is that fundamentals are strong. There are lots of new drinkers, a developing middle class and we've been improving our competitive position.
“However, we also see stiff competition, and the value segment is growing faster than premium, with the exception of Heineken.”
Meanwhile, Heineken CFO René Hooft Graafland, who had earlier described Heineken's 2013 “as challenging”, said the brewer still has hope for Europe.
“There is still lower consumption there, but you should not write Europe off,” he said. “It's a market where you can make good business with higher margin products and innovations, and by taking share. That is what we are doing and what we did.”
However, the CFO warned there have been deeper consumption falls in Central and Eastern Europe. “Going forward, there are not clear signs that these markets are turning around,” he said.
For an in-depth focus on Heineken's results by region, click here.
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