Beer sales and profits crumbled at Chang lager brewer Thai Public Beverage Co in 2009, but solid performances in spirits, soft drinks and food divisions ensured flat earnings for the year.

Group net profits for the 12 months to the end of December were flat against 2008 at THB10.6bn (US$322.3m), Thai Public Beverage Co (ThaiBev) said late last week. Net sales rose by 2.4% to THB107.9bn.

Solid headline figures masked a dismal year for ThaiBev's beer division, however. Beer sales fell by 21.5% to THB30.2bn, with volume sales down by more than a quarter. The division also swung to net losses of THB1.6bn, against profits for the business of THB338m in 2008.

ThaiBev blamed the collapse in profits on falling sales and higher costs.

Stronger performances in other divisions helped ThaiBev to offset troubled times at its beer business.

Spirits sales grew by nearly 17% to THB69.7bn for the year, with volume growth of 11.5% and profits growth of 20%, to THB19bn. The division was boosted by its acquisition of Chinese white spirits group Yunnan Yulinquan Liquor Co in May last year.

Sales of non-alcoholic beverages rose by 24% to THB4.9bn, largely due to the contribution of newly-acquired Oishi tea business. Net profits for the division tripled on 2008, to THB488m. Food sales increased by 25% over the 12 months.

ThaiBev said it had successfully passed excise tax rises in beer, spirits and white spirits in its home Thailand market on to customers.