By Ian Neubauer

Gage Roads Brewing (GRB) has posted an after tax net loss of $3.62 million for the 2007-08 fiscal year against a background of flat sales growth.

GRB chief executive Nick Hayler said that while the result was disappointing, it also reflected increased marketing expenditure. 

“The loss, while disappointing, is a reflection of the investment we have made in the future of this business,” he said. “We have implemented a number of changes during the year that were essential to increasing future sales momentum and securing the future of the company. We believe the positive impact of those changes will be seen over the coming months.”

Hayler was appointed in October last year to drive new marketing, strategic planning and capital raising activities, and reinvigorate the culture of the craft WA brewer. He has been credited for a broader product range and an improved distribution channel that is expected to become profitable by the end of next year.

GRB signed an agreement in May for VOK Beverages to distribute their beers in Australia. It also released a new product, Wahoo Premium Ale, in April, and plans to launch a low-carbohydrate beer and two cider products later this year.

“Gage Roads has executed a strategy to tackle the challenging marketplace and adapt through new brands, contract brewing, better distribution channels and a total focus on quality,” Hayler said. “With a clear and focused path to profitability. I am encouraged about the outlook for 2009 and beyond.”

Haylor’s enthusiasm flies in the face of a temperamental market that is notoriously unkind to small and medium sized enterprises. The last twelve months have seen the demise or retreat of a number of WA craft brewers. Chief among them is the Empire Beer Group, which agreed to sell its leasehold pubs earlier this month after admitting its attempt to establish a multi-venue hospitality operation had failed.

GRB shares were selling for 8 cents on the Australian Stock Exchange when trading commenced today (August 29).

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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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