By Andrew Starke
Coopers Brewery has announced a small annual profit with the impact of the global financial crisis and high malt prices offsetting gains the brewer has made outside of South Australia.
The company’s turnover for the 2008 / 2009 financial year increased 5 percent to $169 million, compared with $161 million in 2007 / 2008, while after tax profit rose to $20.3 million, compared with $20.2 million the previous year.
Total sales volume for beer rose by 1 percent, led by a 6.3 percent increase in sales outside Coopers’ home markets of South Australia and the Northern Territory.
According to the company, Coopers now accounts for 3.4 percent of the total Australian beer market, up from 3.3 percent at the end of the 2007 / 2008 financial year.
Coopers managing director, Dr Tim Cooper, said profits for the year were affected by the high malt prices that prevailed throughout the year, while the financial slowdown had reduced the growth in sales enjoyed in previous years.
“While the financial slowdown did impact on beer sales, this was partially offset by a rise of 3.9 percent in home brew sales,” he said.
“Part of this improvement was attributed to the tighter economic conditions resulting from the global financial crisis, as sales of home brew concentrates have historically been seen to rise in times of economic slowdown.”
Cooper said export beer volume had risen by 2.9 percent for the year, despite the strength of the Australian dollar.
He said interstate growth was also expected to increase as a result of the activities of Premium Beverages, an 80 percent owned subsidiary of Coopers responsible for driving interstate sales, and the introduction of new products.
Premium Beverages was previously responsible for the distribution of Budweiser within Australia and New Zealand, but this will now be handled by Lion Nathan.
However, these distribution rights will cease in December this year following the purchase of Anheuser-Busch by global brewer InBev in late 2008 and a review of distribution arrangements.
“This change may create opportunities to explore alternative options in pursuing distribution of international premium beers,” Cooper said.