New Zealand beer group, DB Breweries, reported a full-year net profit of NZ$22.6m. While this figure was well down on last year's profit of NZ58.3m, the previous year had been boosted by one-off gains. Earnings before interest and tax from continuing operations rose by 0.7% to NZ30m while sales grew by 3.2%.

"It's been a tough market out there, but the encouraging sign is that the overall beer market is growing and that is the first time in 10 years we've seen any growth," said DB's managing director, Brian Blake, adding that the company expects to boost its EBIT level earnings and sales during the coming fiscal year to the end of September 2003. He also said the company's market share had remained constant at 35%.

Blake said DB had reinvested in its key brands with significant marketing initiatives during the last fiscal year and expected to reap the benefits in the coming year. "The board has been happy to reinvest for the future in high levels of marketing," Blake said. "We are also constantly looking at opportunities for growing the market."

In March of this year, the company changed its name from DB Group to DB Breweries to reflect the new focus of the business on beer which involved selling off Corbans Wines, Allied Liquor Merchants and NZ Liquor. DB Breweries is 76%-owned by Asia Pacific Breweries, the joint venture between Heineken and Singapore-based Fraser & Neave.