Stellar sales of Stella cider

THE world’s biggest brewer AB InBev said its newly-launched Stella Artois Cidre helped offset a 16 per cent decline in beer volumes in the UK.

The group, which makes Stella Artois, Beck’s and Budweiser, said beer volumes in the UK had fallen in the second quarter of 2011, after it came up against tough comparative figures a year ago when sales were boosted by the World Cup.

But it said its cider had proved a success since its launch in April and had claimed a 16 per cent share of the market, according to industry figures.

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It also hopes volumes of Budweiser will be boosted by its recent deal to sponsor the FA Cup for the next three years.

The group’s revenues rose 3.7 per cent to $10bn (£6.1bn) in the quarter, while underlying profits rose six per cent to $3.7bn (£2.3bn), boosted by a strong performance in China and Brazil.

Profits were also helped by lower tax and financing costs and the weakness of the US dollar, since AB InBev generates much of its sales in currencies other than the dollar.

The Belgium-based company said in western Europe underlying profits rose 1.7 per cent to $387m (£237.4m).

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In the UK, Stella Artois Cidre was helping to attract new drinkers to cider, and the company claimed it was on track to become one of the industry’s most successful consumer product launches.

Its ‘Le President’ advertising campaign had also been highly acclaimed, it added.

The group recently launched ‘Stella Artois 4 per cent’, which at four per cent strength is weaker than Stella Artois, in order to diversify its offer.