By Andrew Starke

Woolworths will launch Dry Dock, a new beer brand, over the latter half of September, which is expected to go head-to-head with Lion Nathan’s Tooheys Extra Dry and Foster’s VB Raw.

Contacted by TheShout, a spokesperson for Woolworths said the beer would be brewed in a dry style and rolled out nationally from next month.

Dry Dock will be brewed by Gage Roads in Western Australia, in which Woolworths has a 25 percent stake, and by Independent Distillers for the east coast market.

Woolworths CEO Michael Luscombe confirmed the launch at a media briefing yesterday (Aug 27), where Australia’s leading retailer posted double-digit earnings growth.

The group unveiled a 12.8 percent rise in earnings to $1.84 billion while also forecasting profit to grow by 8 percent to 11 per cent for 2009/2010.

“All existing liquor operations, including Dan Murphy, BWS and attached liquor, continue to perform well and recorded strong growth in both sales and profits,” said a statement from Woolworths.

Total liquor sales for the year were $5.2 billion, up from $4.7 billion last year, attributed to an expanded range of exclusive brands and private labels, and new store openings.

While Woolworth’s house brand Platinum Blonde is only a small player in the beer market, the supermarket and retailer has plans to ramp up its in-house product range to compete directly with its main suppliers.

Plans to maximise Gage Road’s brewing capacity started earlier this year, with the supply agreement presenting the Fremantle-based craft brewery with the opportunity to substantially grow its current production volume and realise a greater economy of scale.

“Our low-carb beer ‘Platinum Blonde’, launched in July 2008, has performed very well,” continued the statement. “Recently we acquired a 25 percent interest in the Gage Roads Brewery which provides a base for the further rollout of private label beer.”

Woolworth’s liquor business opened 77 stores over financial year 2009 (37 BWS, 15 Dan Murphy’s and 25 supermarket-attached liquor stores). It now operates 1154 liquor outlets nationwide.

Woolworth’s shares were trading at $28.23 at midday today, down from $27.49 seven days ago.

The Shout Team

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

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