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Heineken and Carlsberg post a decline in sales

Press release   •   Aug 22, 2013 12:21 BST

Brewing giants Heineken and Carlsberg posted worse than expected beer sales yesterday, particularly in the developed markets of Europe.

Heineken, the world's third-largest brewer, said the volume of beer it sold in the UK and the rest of Western Europe dropped by 8 per cent.

The world's third-largest brewer, which joined forces with Danish rival Carlsberg in 2008 to break up Edinburgh-based Scottish & Newcastle (S&N), is fighting back against weak sales by introducing a range of "radler" drinks, which mix beer with fruit juice.

A low-alcohol Foster's radler, which includes lemon juice, has been introduced in the UK along with more fruit variations of its Bulmers cider brand.

Heineken, which boasts Strongbow cider and Sol and Tiger beer among its brands, saw first-half profits fall 17 per cent to €693m (£590m).

As well as the wet spring in Europe and the United States, Heineken was hit by lower sales in France, where wholesalers had been stocking up ahead of an alcohol duty rise in January.

Scotch whisky distillers had also been affected by the tax changes in France, which is a key market for the spirit.

Chief executive Jean-François van Boxmeer warned: "We continue to operate in a challenging trading environment. Although the volume trends have improved in July with the warm summer weather in Europe, economic conditions in several of our core markets continue to constrain consumer spending."

Meanwhile, Carlsberg reported that revenue in Asia grew by 10 per cent, but Eastern European sales have fallen slightly.

Carlsberg spooked investors with lower-than-expected profits and a more pessimistic outlook for Russia, which has become its single largest market.

Carlsberg said Western European volumes dropped 6 per cent in the last quarter. First half-profits were flat at 4.1bn kroner (£469m).

Chief executives at both companies warned that European demand for beer is likely to remain subdued for the next year.

For more information on Heineken, see the latest research: Heineken

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