• Nine-month profits up by 36.5% to JPY35.9bn (US$459m)
  • Net sales drop by 2.7% to 1.07tn
  • Operating profits rise by 22.2% to JPY76.8bn
  • Lower costs help to lift profits as domestic beer sales continue to fall

Lower costs have helped Asahi Group Holdings to increase nine-month profits, despite a drop in net sales for the period.

An ongoing decline in beer sales in Japan caused Asahi's group net sales to slip by 2.7% for the nine months to the end of September, to JPY1.07tn (US$12.7bn). The slip overshadowed strong sales growth for the firm's soft drinks business and also for its Schweppes business in Australia.

Despite the drop in sales, Asahi's operating profits rose by 22% on the same period of last year, to JPY76.8bn. The group said that it increased profits by spending less on sales promotions and via lower manufacturing and labour costs.

Net profits increased by 36.5% to JPY35.9bn for the nine months, lifted further by proceeds from the sale of two breweries in China to CR Snow Breweries. The group reported a JPY16bn one-off charge related to the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March.  

Asahi did not publish specific figures for the third quarter of 2011.

During 2011, Asahi has significantly increased its presence in Australasia as part of broader strategy to expand overseas. In August, Asahi acquired New Zealand's Charlie's Group and gained regulatory approval to acquire Australia's P&N Beverages. Earlier this month, the firm bought Independent Liquor Group for NZD1.53bn (JPY98.2bn, US$1.19bn).

For the company's announcement, click here.