The Japanese brewer, Kirin Brewery Co., posted a net profit of Y13.93 billion for the six months to the end of June, up 35% from Y10.32 billion in the first six months of the previous fiscal year.

Group sales for the first half rose by 0.7% from Y727.89 billion to Y732.81 billion.

Although sales growth was modest, it was ahead of the market which declined, and ahead of Kirin's main competitors. As a whole, the beer market was down by 7.7% in the same period.

The company said that a streamlining programme had resulted in an 11% increase in operating profits to Y37.58 billion.

Beer sales fell by 6.6% in the first half in volume terms and Kirin said that the rise in excise duty on happoshu low-malt beer reduced operating profit for the half by Y9.6 billion.

However, the company's first-half performance was boosted by an improved dividend from the Australian beer and wine group, Lion Nathan, in which Kirin owns a 46% stake.

The company has reduced its forecast for the full year to the end of December. It is now expecting to post a group operating profit of Y90 billion and a net profit of Y33 billion on sales of Y1.61 trillion. Its previous guidance predicted a group net profit of Y39 billion, an operating profit of Y100 billion and turnover of Y1.67 trillion.

The company expects its beer volumes to fall by 6.3% for the full year, whereas it had previously been predicting flat volumes.