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Coopers Brewery profits dive as Australians turn away from keg beer

Total keg beer sales in 2013-14 dropped by 1.5 per cent in 2013-14, while packaged beer sales increased by 10.3 per cent. Photo: David Mariuz Total keg beer sales in 2013-14 dropped by 1.5 per cent in 2013-14, while packaged beer sales increased by 10.3 per cent. Photo: David Mariuz
Nanjing Night Net

Total keg beer sales in 2013-14 dropped by 1.5 per cent in 2013-14, while packaged beer sales increased by 10.3 per cent. Photo: David Mariuz

Total keg beer sales in 2013-14 dropped by 1.5 per cent in 2013-14, while packaged beer sales increased by 10.3 per cent. Photo: David Mariuz

Australia’s third-largest beer group Coopers Brewery has suffered a 9.1 per cent decline in after-tax profits to $28 million for 2013-14 and managing director Dr Tim Cooper is forecasting a likely flat result this financial year as a shift away from keg beer continues.

“We make more money on the keg beer than we do on packaged beer,” Dr Cooper said on Thursday.

But he’s reluctant to sheet all the blame home to the rising power of the national retail chains of Woolworths and Coles, suggesting that it is changing preferences of drinkers that is more of an influence rather than a clawing away of more of the profit pie by the big liquor chains.

“I don’t think we can particularly lay it at the door of the national retailers,” Dr Cooper said.

Coopers, which is owned by 143 shareholders, most of them descendants of the founding Cooper family in Adelaide, increased turnover by 6.9 per cent to $231 million in 2013-14.

But net profit after tax slipped by 9.1 per cent from $30.8 million to $28 million, with the costs of installing a second bottling line at its Regency Park plant in Adelaide also hitting the bottomline.

Coopers increased its national market share slightly to just under 5 per cent in 2013-14, in a total beer market which declined for the fifth year in a row for all players across Australia.

Dr Cooper said it had been tough going for all beer companies in Australia in the first few months of 2014-15. “We had a poor month in August as did the others,” he said.

At this point in the new financial year, profits were tracking at about the same as they were 12 months earlier.

“We’re virtually line ball with last year,” he said.

Dr Cooper said the gradual shift away from keg beer in the Australian market was a trend that was continuing, with drinkers preferring to buy packaged beer for consumption at home rather than risk running foul of drink-driving laws by drinking more at pubs and bars.

He said Coopers sold about 20 per cent of its total beer volumes through kegs now, and this compared with 30 per cent in the early 1990s.

Total keg beer sales in 2013-14 dropped by 1.5 per cent in 2013-14, while packaged beer sales increased by 10.3 per cent.

Sales in Coopers’ home State of South Australia declined by 0.8 per cent during the year, while its best growth was in Victoria where sales were up by 15.3 per cent. Victoria now represents 17.1 per cent of Coopers’ total sales.

Sales in Queensland jumped by 14.4 per cent and in Western Australia they climbed by 12 per cent. In NSW, sales improved by 8.2 per cent, with that market making up 26 per cent of Coopers’s volume, second behind SA.

Coopers is the last remaining big Australian-owned beer company. Carlton & United Breweries, the maker of Victoria Bitter, was bought out by global conglomerate SABMiller in a 2011 takeover of Foster’s Group.

Lion’s beer operations, which make XXXX, Tooheys and West End, are now part of the broader Lion dairy, beer and juice conglomerate after the company was taken over by Japan’s Kirin Corporation in 2009. Lion made a $420 million takeover bid for Coopers in 2005, but it was blocked by the family in a bitter battle.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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