Kirin Brewery Co. is aiming to boost operating profit by at least 28% in the next three years by focusing on growth in its overseas operations, non-beer alcohol and soft drink businesses.

Kirin, which is fighting it out with Asahi Breweries to lead Japan's beer market, is looking to expand further abroad and invest more cash in non-beer ventures to alleviate stagnant domestic beer consumption.

The brewer said yesterday (19 December) it plans to spend JPY250bn (US$2.1bn) on capital investments between 2007 and 2009. Kirin said it had set a further JPY300bn aside for investments to "secure a new growth trajectory", including acquisitions.

"One of the keys is to revive and strengthen our alcohol business in Japan. In addition to that, we have growth strategies which are overall beverages and globalisation," Kirin president Kazuyasu Kato told reporters yesterday (19 December).

The company said it is aiming for operating profit of at least JPY150bn in 2009 and is targeting a 28% leap in sales to JPY2.15 trillion over the same period.

Kirin is looking to bolster its presence in Japan's 'happoshu' and 'third-beer' categories. Demand for such products is on the up in Japan because they are made from ingredients including caramel, which means the tax on them is lower because they are not classified as beer.

Kirin is also looking for growth from its soft drink operations and in June made Kirin Beverage a wholly-owned subsidiary. In a further move outside the beer industry, Kirin last month bought a majority stake in local wine group Mercian Corp.

Kirin wants to generate 30% of its sales from overseas by 2015 and is looking to up its footprint overseas. Last week, Kirin bought a 25% stake in Chinese beer maker Hangzhou Qiandaohu Brewery Co.

Kirin said it wanted to focus on three areas of the world's largest beer market - the Yangtze river delta, the Pearl river delta, and three provinces in the north-east of the country. It added that a brewery under construction in the city of Zhuhai would be finished next June.