Off-trade beer sales down at Greene King

03 July, 2008

Greene King said its like-for-like beer sales were down nearly three per cent in the off-trade, underlining the market pressure on brewers.

Retail beer sales have slipped in the last couple of months, despite a relatively strong performance in the year to May 4th, Greene King announced in its full-year results on Thursday.

The Old Speckled Hen brewer’s recent decline is reflected across the UK’s off-trade beer sector. Both beer and lager sales fell two per cent in value in the 12 months to April 19th, according to Nielsen figures obtained by OLN.

Greene King said its own beers, including IPA and Abbot Ale, had bucked the problems in the take-home market for most of the last year.

Own-brewed volumes rose six per cent. And Old Speckled Hen grew its volume by 28 per cent and its share of the premium ale category in supermarkets by two percentage points to 11.9 per cent.

The group had also mitigated costs by operating out of one brewery, it said.

These were not enough to offset a poor on-trade climate, however. Revenue for the group’s brewing division dropped five per cent to £88.5m, with operating profit down eight per cent to £21m.

On-trade lager suffered the most serious fall and Greene King said the sector was in terminal decline – describing its problems as “structural rather than temporary”.

The brewer said it was committed to “long-term investment” in its own brands, following a £2m promotion campaign for IPA last year.

Total Greene King revenue rose five per cent to £960.5m, with pre-tax profit up two per cent to £142m.

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