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Asahi to combine European units as coronavirus hits Q2 sales

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Asahi is restructuring its European business after the coronavirus dragged down second-quarter sales by double-digits.

Asahi will consolidate its European teams into Asahi Europe International

Asahi will consolidate its European teams into Asahi Europe International

The Japanese brewer will consolidate its two European teams into one business unit under the new name Asahi Europe International. The business will be headquartered in Prague and led by new CEO Paolo Lanzarotti.

Lanzarotti is currently the head of Asahi Breweries of Europe, which handles Asahi's European beer brands including Grolsch and Peroni Nastro Azzurro. ABG will be combined with Asahi International, which serves as Asahi's corporate office in Europe and is based out of Woking, near London.

Asahi International was previously led by Hector Gorosabel, who joined Asahi from SABMiller when the Japanese firm bought SABMiller's European beer portfolio. Gorosabel left Asahi in March, Asahi told just-drinks without giving further details.

Asahi Europe International will start operations on 1 November. A spokesperson for Asahi declined to comment on whether the restructure will include job cuts as discussions with staff are ongoing.

Asahi said in a statement: "We can confirm that Asahi Group Holdings plans to reorganise all its European beer brands, companies and export teams into one business unit under Asahi Europe International."

In first-half results released this week, Asahi's European operations posted an 11% sales decline during Q2. Volumes in April were down by almost 20% because of the closure of the on-premise in many markets. Asahi said European off-premise sales increased but not enough to offset on-premise losses.

Despite signs of a recovery in late Q2, Asahi said second-half sales in Europe are expected to remain depressed, down by an estimated mid-single digits.

Sales in Japan were even more badly-affected by the coronavirus. Asahi's domestic alcohol sales were down 17% for H1 and 24% for Q2. 

Asahi said it is restructuring operations in Australia following its acquisition of Anheuser-Busch InBev's Carlton United Breweries on 1 June. The company will consolidate CUB into one Oceania hub from October. The hub will comprise Asahi Lifestyle Beverages, Asahi Premium Beverages, CUB and Asahi Beverages New Zealand.

Overall, Asahi's group organic sales were down 10% in the first six months of the year. The declines included a 16% fall for alcohol sales and an 8% drop in soft drinks sales. Looking ahead, the company expects full-year organic sales to be down by 3%, boosted by the CUB consolidation.

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