Heineken blames a cruel summer

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The poor summer weather hit sales of beer and cider in the UK despite the launch of premium versions of Foster’s and Bulmers, brewer Heineken said yester- day.

The Dutch company, which also owns brands including Amstel, Kingfisher, Newcastle Brown Ale, Sol and Tiger, said volumes of beer declined in the third quarter of 2011.

But the firm claimed the strong performance of its Foster’s and Heineken brands, backed by TV advertising campaigns and boosted by the launch of Foster’s Gold, allowed it to grow its share of a UK beer market that declined 4.5 per cent in the period.

Volumes of Strongbow cider also showed “low single digit declines” in the UK as it came up against competition from rivals, including Stella Artois Cidre, which was launched in April. It also recently scrapped its high-alcohol content Strongbow Black.

A spokesman said overall cider volumes declined in the period despite the recent successful launch of Bulmers No17 premium cider.

Heineken, which acquired some of its UK brands through the 2008 takeover of Scottish & Newcastle, said global underlying revenues increased by 3 per cent, driven by strong growth in emerging markets such as Africa and Russia and as it pushed through price increases.

But underlying profits were down as a result of poor weather in July and August in Europe and as it ramped up spending on its Open Your World advertising campaign.

Heineken said full-year profits would be in-line with last year’s.