SABMiller swapped its Russian operations with Anadolu Efes for 24% of the Turkey-based brewers global business

SABMiller swapped its Russian operations with Anadolu Efes for 24% of the Turkey-based brewer's global business

SABMiller has admitted to an unsatisfactory year for its partnership with Anadolu Efes in Russia, but maintains that 2014 offers reasons for optimism.

In early-2012, the company swapped its beer operations in Russia for a 24% stake in Turkey-headquartered Anadolu Efes. However, despite a healthy performance in 2012, with the SABMiller tie-up being cited as a major performance driver, higher pricing and a “tightened regulatory environment” in Russia made their presence on Efes felt last year.

The introduction of new laws on beer sales in the country in January last year coincided with a ban on print media alcohol advertising.

Speaking at the brewer's quarterly divisional seminar in London today (11 February), the MD of SABMiller Europe, Sue Clark, conceded that 2013 had proved a struggle in Russia. ”Last year was certainly a challenging year for Efes in Russia,” she said. “The team have been pretty open about the challenges they have faced. Efes has been disproportionately hit in Russia, as it is heavily-weighted towards Moscow.”

Clark claimed, however, that she was “more confident” about the year ahead in Russia. “The team are refocusing their efforts on our premium and upper-mainstream brands,” she said. “Also, significant steps are being taken to reduce the cost base.” Clark highlighted the announcement in December of the closure of Efes' brewery in the south-western town of Rostov.

The company also used today's presentation to analysts and media to forecast low single-digit volumes and revenue-per-hectolitre growth in the medium term for its European unit.