On Thursday, Molson Coors Beverage Co will announce its results from the first quarter of 2021. The numbers are the first to follow 2020’s full-year sales decline of 8.7%. Here’s a look at the news that is likely to have shaped the group’s performance in the three months to the end of March.

Staying true to its 2019 name change, Molson Coors underlined its non-beer credentials at the start of the quarter through a new distribution arrangement in the US for the Zoa energy drinks brand. The tie-up, with Zoa owner Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, sees the group handle the five-strong portfolio exclusively across the country.

There was a lot to take in from 2019’s news that Molson Coors is to massively overhaul its global operations. Top-line are the jobs losses – 400-500 is a big number and an undoubted hit to staff morale. That many of the job cuts will be in Molson Coors’ spiritual home, Denver, will only inflame the hurt.

A week later, in mid-January, the company realised the fruits of its cannabis labours, with Veryvell hitting the US. The CBD beverage brand debuted in Colorado and hopes to tap into the health & wellness trend among the country’s consumers.

Staying in the US, and Molson Coors announced further details of a brewing tie-up with DG Yuengling & Sons. The partnership sees Molson Coors take on the production of some of Yuengling’s brands in the country, with a view to upping the presence beyond their historical east coast footprint. First up: Texas.

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Another team-up, this time in Nicaragua, followed towards the end of January. Grupo Compañía Cervecera de Nicaragua commenced the brewing of Miller Lite in the country at the start of this year, also taking on marketing and distribution responsibilities for the group’s flagship brand. The move strengthens the relationship between the two companies, with CCN already producing Miller Lite for export to Honduras.

More non-beer developments at the end of the month, this time with the RTD brand Superbird entering the fold. Molson Coors will distribute the canned Tequila-based premix for brand owner Casa Komos Beverage Group throughout North America.

Miller Genuine Draft received a lick of paint in February. The ‘legacy’ brand benefitted from the first major packaging revamp in its 36-year history. “We wanted to breathe some new life into [MGD], re-engage with our core drinkers, and set the brand up for future success,” Molson Coors said at the time.

The latest restructuring effort occurred at the end of February with the offload of Indian operations to Inbrew Holdings. The divestment to the Singapore-based investment group also included a licensing arrangement for brands such as Miller Lite, Carling and Cobra in the country.

Disaster struck in March when the group was hit by a cyberattack. The incident resulted in a systems outage at its US brewing, production and shipment operations. The scale of the damage was realised a couple of weeks later, with a warning that Q1 results will show a delay of production in and distribution to Canada, the UK and the US. A near-fortnight closure of the Fort Worth facility in Texas thanks to February’s winter storms was also flagged as a worry.

just-drinks thinks: Carlsberg has potentially made things easy when it comes to predicting Molson Coors’ performance this year. The pair were neck and neck in 2020, posting full-year sales declines of 8.4% and 8.7%, respectively. Carlsberg’s Q1 fared pretty well, with the group coming in 3.8% up on the corresponding period a year earlier. The worry is, however, that Carlsberg had China, specifically, and Asia, more broadly, to thank for the strong showing. Molson Coors, meanwhile, should expect to see a sizable divergence from its peer from the three-month period, thanks to its reliance on markets where the on-premise is nowhere near its traditional trading level. That’s not to mention last month’s cyberattack and February’s Texas brewery closure. So, sales growth in Q1? Don’t count on it.

As we start to see the light, how can brewers help the on-premise? – Click here for a just-drinks comment