SABMiller's Polish subsidiary is hoping to give sales of flagship international brand Pilsner Urquell a boost following a flat year.

At a press briefing in Poland yesterday (27 September), Kompania Piwowarska's managing director, Mark Bowman, conceded that the Czech beer was not performing as the company had hoped since its launch in Poland five years ago.

"With sales of 100,000 hectolitres last year (2005-2006), Pilsner Urquell hasn't grown as we would have liked," Bowman said. In the year before, sales in Poland were 105,000 hectolitres, having peaked in 2003-2004 at 115,000 hectolitres.

Bowman added that the company is aiming for sales of nearer 300,000 hectolitres in coming years. "We'd like to triple those figures (of 100,000 hectolitres) going forward we just need to figure out how to do it," Bowman continued "The international premium sector is an opportunity for us. We underperform our competitors in this sector."

Kompania Piwowarska saw Pilsner Urquell sales hit earlier this year by Carlsberg's decision to cut the price of its international offering in the country. "A 9% Carlsberg price drop makes it hard for us with a product that we're trying to price up," Bowman said. "We haven't justified to consumers why they should pay a premium (for Pilsner Urquell)."

Going forward, Bowman told just-drinks that the company hopes to give the brand a shot in the arm through improved marketing and by launching fresh packaging. Pilsner Urquell will be the subject of an international packaging upgrade before the end of this year.

Seperately, Bowman announced that the company is dropping one of its brands in Poland. Kompania Piwowarska has a total of 16 brands in its stable, but will drop Zlote Classic in the coming financial year. Sales of the brand, which consists of two extensions, have fallen to 30,000 hectolitres per year.