China rains on SABMiller’s sales parade

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A wet and wild winter in China was blamed for a slowdown in the growth of lager sales at SABMiller (LSE: SAB.L - news) , the beer giant behind Peroni and Grolsch.

Lager volumes during the three months to December 31, SAB’s third quarter, were up 2pc on the previous year but had slowed from 4pc during the first half.

The beer giant, which generates most of its revenue in Latin America and Africa, said China was predominantly to blame as plunging winter temperatures dissuaded drinkers from going out for a cold beer.

China, where SAB produces brands such as Snow through a joint venture, accounts for a quarter of the group’s volumes but only about 2pc of earnings.

In Europe, growth also slowed significantly, hit by problems in Eastern Europe, where the Czech government introduced a blanket ban on all spirits after 19 people died from drinking bootleg alcohol.

The ban had a knock-on effect on beer consumption in pubs and bars as well.

In the UK, SAB reported 4pc growth as drinkers splashed out on premium brands regardless of the economy.

Despite slowing volume growth, group revenue jumped 8pc in the third quarter following strong performances in Latin America and Africa.