Peroni pints for £5 aid SABMiller beat downturn

BREWING giant SABMiller said yesterday that positioning itself as a premium seller in the UK had reaped rewards, as the Peroni maker bucked a declining market to record a rise in lager sales.

“We are focusing on that premium brand position and we don’t apologise for some of our partners charging five quid a pint,” the UK managing director of Miller Brands, Gary Haigh, told City A.M.

“It’s a premium brand and it’s a ray of sunshine, an affordable treat, [our drinks] are a little bit different from the standard lagers,” he said.

SABMiller – which also makes Grolsch and Coors – said sales in the UK had risen five per cent by volume year-on-year in the six months to October. This compares to an industry slowdown of 4.6 per cent.

Shares in the company grew six per cent yesterday as it said revenues in the period had risen 11 per cent to $17.5bn (£11bn), while the group’s pre-tax profit rose 12 per cent to $2.3bn. Although much of this was down to its recent acquisition of Foster’s, SABMiller said that underlying growth was still strong.

It saw the biggest growth in Latin America and Africa, although earnings fell 10 per cent in Europe as the firm suffered from weak conditions and lower margins in eastern Europe, a necessity in order to maintain SABMiller’s market share.

Haigh said the company would be using the lessons learned in the UK to reposition itself in Europe. “Eastern Europe is reaching the end of its emerging market phase, and the UK is a great blueprint for what the future looks like.”