SABMiller capitalise on rising demand for premium lagers


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The Independent Online

Brewer SABMiller today grabbed an bigger slice of a shrinking UK beer market and flagged up a major push for its Pilsner Urquell brand.

Its UK arm Miller Brands has been is targeting lager-lovers looking for a more expensive pint with its range of imported beer, including Italy’s Peroni Nastro Azzurro. It said today it is looking to deliver similar results with Pilsner, the Czech Republic brand which grew UK sales 10 per cent over the past year.

At the 2012 Taste of London Festival 4,700 pints of unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell — the world’s first and oldest pilsner lager — were served from a giant wooden barrel brought across from the Czech Republic.

Despite the poor weather Miller Brands managed to grow volumes 4 per cent in the year to March against the backdrop of a market which shrank by more than 5 per cent.

Its lagers like Peroni and Pilsner command just 4 per cent of the UK market at the moment but Miller’s managing director Gary Haigh said there was room to “grow it materially” despite the advent of the £5 pint. He also expects the “flight to premium” to continue. “The way we have expressed the brand has resonated with UK consumers,” Haigh said.

Haigh, who has called the UK’s beer duty regime “the crime of the century”, also welcomed the Chancellor’s Budget cut as “long overdue”. “It’s good to see it being passed on,” he added.

The brewer has expanded rapidly since the 2002 takeover of Miller by South Africa’s SAB and generates 75 per cent of its profits from emerging markets. Like-for-like profits in Latin America grew 11 per cent while Africa profits shot up 20 per cent, overtaking both North America and Europe. Overall revenues rose 10% to $34.5 billion (£22.9 billion).

PUBs group Young’s is reinventing the idea of the great British boozer, introducing events that are pulling in the punters with movie nights, butchery, fish and game master classes, mum and toddler groups and even yoga sessions. The London-based firm’s revenue for the year was up 8.2 per cent to £193.7 million. Profit was up 10.6 per cent to £28.9 million with a rise in the dividend for a 16th successive year.