UK: S&N H1 up, but no thanks to weather
No doubt setting the tone for drinks groups across Western Europe this summer, Scottish & Newcastle has reported first half results affected by the adverse weather that has hit the continent in the period.
The UK-based brewer said today (8 August) that whilst overall revenues were up 7.8% to GBP2.107bn (US$4.26bn) and earnings per share grew 5.6% to GBP0.15, the figures had been undermined by the severe weather conditions in June.
"Those weather conditions continued into July, further impacting trading in these key markets. In addition, the effect of the brewery strike in France has also impacted performance in July. These markets have therefore experienced significant difficulties in two of our three key summer trading months," the company said.
It added that although the Russian business - made up of its joint venture BBH - continued to grow very strongly for the half year, the aggregate effect of the negative factors "will make the achievement of this year's trading targets very challenging."
Brian Stewart, chairman, said: "We are pleased with a rise of 11.7% in comparable operating profits for the first half year but recognise the challenge we face in the second half. The last six months has seen extraordinarily diverse conditions in individual beer markets. Our businesses have delivered strong competitive performances but that market diversity has inevitably shaped our results."
Tony Froggatt, chief executive, added: "In the first half we have grown branded revenue by 12.4% and have generated GBP133m of cash. These results are the reward for consistent adherence to a strategy that continues to deliver good progress in varying market conditions around the world."
S&N said that, although the UK business continued to outperform the competition in the first half of the year, the market had been adversely affected by poor summer weather and comparison with strong June volumes during the World Cup a year earlier. That said, the company's cider division grew revenue by 24.7% in the first half.
In France, S&N said that core brands had grown well but the earnings benefit had been offset by a severe decline in the off trade in June, the impact of a strike at its brewery in Obernai and continued difficulties with its wholesale business.
"The strong performance of our brands provides reassurance for the future progress of our branded French business but stabilising the wholesale business remains a key management priority," it said.
As reported earlier in August, BBH (its joint venture in Eastern Europe with Carlsberg) grew volume by 30.2%, revenue by 47.4% and operating profit by 63.3%.
Meanwhile, in India, United Breweries achieved 16.5% volume growth in the first half, and in China, Chongqing Brewery Company saw first half volume grow by 14%.
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