Coopers Brewery has said the launch of Coopers Session Ale and Coopers Dry, plus releasing Coopers Original Pale Ale in cans has helped drive two per cent sales growth, to 76.8 million litres in 2018-19.
In releasing the company’s annual results, Coopers’ Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper said Session Ale had enjoyed solid growth since its release in March 2018 and now represented an important part of the Coopers’ ale portfolio.
“Coopers Dry entered the market to replace Coopers Clear and has been able to carve out a share of the dry or low-carb sector with sales exceeding initial expectations,” he said.
“The release of Coopers Original Pale Ale in cans in August 2018 helped boost sales for our leading product, especially in the second half of the year. The Pale Ale cans have greatly exceeded the sales of the former Dr Tim’s Traditional Ale, which nonetheless served its purpose as a trial product.”
Queensland saw the strongest sales growth, up by 6.1 per cent, while Western Australia grew by 3.1 per cent, Victoria by 2.9 per cent and South Australia by two per cent. Sales in NSW were steady.
Malt sales for the year rose by 132 per cent to 44,300 tonnes, although this came from a low base.
“The maltings is now running close to full capacity, providing significant improvements in malt quality and cost savings on one of our key raw ingredients,” Dr Cooper said.
Despite the increase in beer sales, profit before tax had declined to $23.1m, compared with $34.3m the previous year.
Dr Cooper said the reduced profit was attributable to a changing sales mix, higher barley prices and more competitive market conditions with some segments showing declines in retail pricing.
“The latter renders difficult our ability to recover higher excise duties and costs arising from the imposition of container deposit schemes,” he said.
“Interest and borrowing costs increased by $1.7m during the year reflecting the debt incurred by the malting project and previous share buybacks.
“Sales of manufactured partner brands also fell 11.4 per cent, partly attributable to the conclusion of Coopers’ agreement with Brooklyn Brewery in December 2018. On the other hand, volumes of our naturally conditioned ales and stout increased by 3.1 per cent to represent 81 per cent of total volume.”
Dr Cooper said sales in the first few months of the new financial year had been positive with strong growth in XPA, which was released in can format in August and that the release of Sparkling Ale in cans in August had also been well received.