Blog: Chris Brook-CarterWhat ales S&N?

Chris Brook-Carter | 10 August 2005

Both the talk and the walk of the global brewing industry over the last few years have almost exclusively been about  mergers and acquisitions. Fuelled by speculation about who is making eyes at who - and we here at just-drinks are as guilty as anyone else for that – and of course the odd multi-million dollar takeover here and there, the news pages have almost seemed to write themselves.
 
So it is refreshing to see a brewer making a good deal of noise about its existing and, supposedly, stagnant  markets. At a press briefing earlier today in London, Scottish & Newcastle were not only prepared to point out the struggles it faces in Western Europe, but also keen to suggest solutions to the problems it encounters.
 
“I think (Western Europe) continues to be a very exciting prospect,” S&N CEO Tony Froggatt said, speaking  exclusively to just-drinks. “Despite all the obstacles, a little lateral thinking and innovation can make all the  difference.”
 
Certainly, the company can boast a recent track record in the UK to back up its claims. Froggatt said the company  was gaining share within a soft UK market. Its four key brands, Foster’s, Kronenbourg 1664, John Smith’s and  Strongbow, continued to grow strongly, with total volumes in the first six months of this year up 5.5% against a  market decline of 3.9%.
 
The brewer’s stock fell as the results were published, however, on worries about its performance in the rest of Western Europe, particularly France. But, with the UK - a business many analysts had almost written off two years ago - it has successfully demonstrated it can turn around an underperforming mature market. It makes sense, then, to trust the current management and to believe  Froggatt when he declares that Western Europe will return to operating profit growth in the second half of 2005.
 
By the way, for a full and frank exclusive interview with S&N’s Tony  Froggatt, check out just-drinks from next Tuesday (16 August).

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