Boston Beer Cos Samuel Adams has seen sales decline

Boston Beer Co's Samuel Adams has seen sales decline

More shelf space for US craft beer has damaged sales for the sub-sector's biggest brands, the Boston Beer Co has said.

In a conference call with investors yesterday (1 Aug), Boston Beer's president & CEO Martin Roper blamed a poor first-half performance for its flagship Samuel Adams beer on an influx of smaller labels. The move has diluted the presence of craft beer's heaviest hitters, Roper said.

“Retailers are embracing the craft category, adding space to the category and bringing in a much greater variety into that space,” Roper said.

“Therefore the impact at retail of [bigger] brands is perhaps diminished within the cross-section even while the cross-section maybe doubles in space, or triples.” 

In H1 and Q2 results released earlier yesterday, Samuel Adams declined in all lines except Samuel Adams Seasonal. 

Roper said he is happy at the growth of craft beer, but disappointed with Sam Adams' lag.

“We certainly think it can be improved upon, on the Sam Adams brand, and it's obviously the number one priority for us as a company given that the craft category is growing faster than Sam Adams is growing.”

Boston Beer will try to turn around Sam Adams' fortunes with a packaging overhaul to be completed before the end of the month, Roper told investors.

“I would like to think that if you walk into retail shelves three weeks from now you’ll see a different look and feel for the Sam Adams packaging brands,” he said.

Roper added that he has been “pleasantly surprised” with the reception to Boston Beer's Angry Orchard cider, which was released in April.

He said the US cider market is small at just 6m to 8m cases, but he is surprised at how fast the brand has gained share in the category.

Roper did not give details but said more information will be available at the end of the year.