Molson Coors has posted a strong set of first half figures, despite tougher business conditions in the UK. The North American brewer said yesterday (7 August) that operating income for the 26 weeks to 25 June rose to US$280.5m from $200.4m in the corresponding period a year earlier. Group net sales for the six months were up to US$2.9bn for the period, from $2.7bn in H1 2006.

In Canada, Molson Coors benefited from the presence of the Canada Day weekend in the period, as opposed to occurring in the third quarter last year. In the US, meanwhile, a rise in sales volumes, increased net pricing and the realisation of benefits from merger synergies between Molson and Coors helped the brewer perform well. In Europe, however, the brewer highlighted the poor weather and a strong performance in the period last year, thanks to a good summer and the football World Cup.

"We were pleased with our company's performance," said Leo Kiely, Molson Coors president and CEO. "We were especially pleased that we continued to grow overall volume and achieved share gains in our two largest markets. We remained focused on building our strategic brands, led by Coors Light. In addition, we delivered on cost reduction plans across our global enterprise, offsetting a significant portion of our cost inflation challenges."

Earlier this month, Molson Coors confirmed that it is to close its Edmonton plant in Canada, with the loss of 136 jobs. The bottling facility has been at the centre of a strike by workers since May, with the company conceding that the industrial action had contributed to its decision to close the site.