By Annette Shailer

Lion Nathan has increased net profit by 13 per cent year on year to $313.1 million in its final year of public ownership.

Underpinning the result was the impressive performance of Lion Nathan Australia (LNA), which grew profit by a remarkable 16 per cent to $515.7m.

Lion Nathan CEO, Rob Murray, was thrilled with the results, which saw the group net sales revenue grow 7.1 per cent to $2.242 billion.

“Five years ago, we decided to invest in our most valuable assets – our brands, our people and our breweries and we made a commitment that the investment would be followed by a step-up in earnings,” Murray said.

“I am delighted we have delivered on our promise. Our people have delivered a quiet revolution in our business model and created a company acutely focused on the needs of customers and consumers. Our shareholders have benefited by receiving a price for their shares that rightly reflects the high-quality business we have built.”

The growth of premium beer has bolstered the company’s beer sales, along with the increasing popularity of mid-strength and low-carb beers.  

The LNA portfolio now includes three of the top five beer brands in Australia, with the company’s ‘power’ brands continuing to perform well.

Hahn Super Dry grew volumes by 40.9 per cent for the year, while the nation’s second largest beer XXXX Gold grew 6.2 per cent off a large base.

A high level of innovation has also been a strength for the company with 10 per cent of the FY09 net sales revenue generated by new products launched in the last three years.

New products launched in FY09 include Hahn Super Dry 3.5, Tooheys Extra Dry 5 Seeds and XXXX Summer Bright Light.

The LNA innovation looks set to continue with James Boag’s Pure launched last week, coming off the back of the Boag’s trademark growing volume by 19 per cent on a normalised basis.

Lion Nathan New Zealand (LNNZ) performed well in difficult market conditions to deliver five per cent EBIT growth to NZ$94.3 million.

The results follow a busy time for Lion Nathan, with Kirin’s recent purchase of the company and the merger with National Foods to create Lion Nathan National Foods.

The two Australian businesses will continue to operate separately with a review currently underway to determine a new strategy for the combined group.

“While I don’t intend to pre-judge the outcome of the operational review, we have previously made it clear that these are two quite different businesses and we’re not about to integrate operations for the sake of it,” Murray said.

The Shout Team

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

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