Chinese freeze waters down SABMiller sales

AN exceptionally cold Chinese winter drove down beer sales in the country and hit growth at SABMiller.

The FTSE 100 brewing giant, which makes Peroni, Grolsch and Pilsner Urquell, said it had sold three per cent less beer in China in the final quarter of 2012 than in the same period last year, when acquisitions and disposals were stripped out.

However, strong showings in Latin America and Africa and steady performance in Europe led the company to report an eight per cent rise in revenues for the period.

SABMiller saw volume sales in the UK rise four per cent, outperforming a shrinking premium lager market, with Peroni proving more popular than ever.

Latin America saw lager volumes up six per cent, while Africa was up four per cent and Europe rose one per cent. This meant that despite the Chinese weather, SABMiller sold two per cent more lager than last year overall. The soft drinks business, which bottles and distributes some of Coca Cola’s worldwide sales, also rose.

The company’s revenue growth was spurred by higher average prices as performance in higher-margin regions beat expectations. SABMiller said average revenue per hectolitre sold was up five per cent.

Trading beat expectations, sending shares up around one per cent.