By Ian Neubauer

Foster’s Group has delivered net profit of $411 million for the six months ended Dec 31 — an improvement of 4.5 per cent compared to the corresponding period in 2007.

Foster’s CEO Ian Johnston said the result showed the company’s balance sheet remained strong in the face of the global economic slowdown and a 7 per cent decline in volume of wine sold in the key North American market.

“We’ve seen a strong comeback in Australian beer with underlying volume up over 3 per cent for the first half and we finished the year with around a 52 per cent value of the Australian beer market,” he said. “[But] deteriorating global trading conditions are a challenge in wine, with a switch away from the higher contribution on-premise trade and consumers trading down on price.”

Standout performers for the period include Pure Blonde, which reported an increase in sales revenue of 32 per cent; Carlton Draught, which grew sales by 10.5 per cent; and Beringer White Zinfadel, the company’s only US performer, which saw volume grow by 3.4 per cent in a shrinking market despite a January 2008 price increase.

Foster’s added a small number of new brands to its portfolio in the period, including Pure Blonde Naked, Carlton Natural Blonde and craft beers Fat Yak and Sebastian. It also exited the Australian cask wine segment.

“We are already great producers of drinks, but a focus on continuous improvement is now driving efficiency leading to cost savings and increasing quality delivery across our supply chain,” Johnston said. “The early positive response to this work gives great encouragement.”

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The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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