Overseas sales boost Asahi

Overseas sales boost Asahi

Asahi Breweries has reported a 6% rise in profits for 2009, but drinks sales struggled as an improved overseas presence failed to fully offset falling demand at home in Japan.

Net profits for the 12 months to the end of December reached JPY47.6bn (US$532m), Asahi Breweries said yesterday (8 February).

Net sales for the year crept up 1% to JPY1.47bn, against JPY1.46bn in 2008.

However, an 18% rise in food and healthcare sales masked a 3% fall in alcohol drinks sales, from JPY1tn to JPY985bn. Soft drinks sales were flat against the prior year on JPY297bn.

Drinks sales suffered from an ongoing decline in demand on the Japanese market, where industry figures show the beer  market shrank by 2% in volume in 2009 to a new five-year low.

Asahi's overseas sales leapt 81% in 2009, partly reflecting a strong performance from China's Tsingtao Brewery, in which Asahi acquired a 20% stake from Anheuser-Busch InBev during the year.

Schweppes Australia, which Asahi bought from Cadbury early last year, reported net sales up 7% in 2009, to AUD813m (US$704m).

Asahi is committed to cutting costs on its domestic market and expanding overseas sales as part of its three-year growth strategy up to 2012.

Group operating profits fell 12.4% in 2009, to JPY82.7bn from JPY90.5bn.

The group said yesterday that it plans to cut JPY11bn of costs in Japan in 2010, including JPY6bn of savings on raw material procurement costs and the streamlining of its sales force.

The firm expects net sales to rise by 2% in 2010, with a 30% increase in overseas sales, a 4% rise in soft drinks and a 1% decline in alcoholic drinks. Net profits for the year are expected to rise by 9%, with operating income up 16%.