By James Atkinson

The addition of new international premium and craft beer brands increased Lion's volumes 12 per cent in the half year ended March 31, 2013, the brewer has announced.

Lion's Beer, Spirits & Wine divisions in Australia and New Zealand increased revenues 20.7 per cent to $1.45 billion and delivered operating earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $410.5 million, an increase of 21.7 percent.

Lion said the results were achieved against a challenging beer market with pack volumes down 3.2 per cent.

Improvements in mix from resulting portfolio premiumisation increased revenues 23.5 per cent to $1.15 billion.

"Building on the legacy of XXXX Gold, new mid-strength innovation Hahn Super Dry 3.5 continued its double digit growth, with strong performances also recorded by fellow contemporary brands Hahn Super Dry and XXXX Summer Bright Lager," the company said.

"Lion's leading craft portfolio continued its impressive growth, with Little Creatures Pale Ale growing volume by 15 per cent and new addition to the James Squire portfolio, 150 Lashes Pale Ale, growing over 160 per cent." 

"Lion's leading premium international brands all grew volume, including Heineken, Stella Artois, Becks, Budweiser, Guinness, Kilkenny and Corona Extra, the latter of which recorded double-digit growth off a large base."

Lion said it also achieved volume improvements in its wine business through strong performances from owned-brands Knappstein and Wither Hills as well as third-party agency brands distributed through Fine Wine Partners, Villa Maria and Bollinger.

Lion CEO Stuart Irvine said the liquor business continued to gear its portfolio to the growth segments of the market and innovate to reignite interest in the beer category, including the recent launch of Tap King. 

"In New Zealand the beer market decline has slowed, with volumes now flat, and while competition continues to intensify we are managing our business for the long term through a sustainable balance of volume, pricing and mix," he said.

Lion's Dairy & Drinks division saw revenues decline 5.5 per cent to $1.24 billion and delivered operating earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $44 million, a decrease of 11.6 per cent.

The Shout Team

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

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