Molson Coors has today (2 May) posted a loss for the first quarter of the year with price competition in the UK and one-off items weighing on the results.

The world's fifth-largest brewer reported an after-tax loss of US$400,000, down from a profit of US$14.7m in the corresponding period last year. Volumes, however, inched up 2% to 10.1m hectolitres.

Leo Kiely, Molson Coors president and CEO, admitted there had been "challenges" during the first quarter of the year but said the brewer had been "encouraged" by the performances of its Coors Light, Molson Canadian and Carling brands.

He added: "Our results during the first quarter of the year reflected positive sales volume and brand strength in all three of our businesses, while our earnings were negatively affected by a very difficult operating environment in the UK, temporarily high corporate overhead expenses, and higher commodity and energy inflation costs across our system."

During the first quarter, Molson Coors incurred costs of US$21.7m related to the closure of its brewery in Memphis, plus a charge worth US$7.8m covering restructuring costs in Europe.

In Europe, Molson Coors said that losses - excluding one-off items - were double the level of last year thanks to "pricing pressures" in the on- and off-trade, particularly in the UK.

In Canada, however, sales-to-retailers rose 3.9%, while sales in the US inched up 1.9%, driven by "low-single digit" growth in Coors Light sales.