Heineken hangover as poor weather saw beer sales volumes drop 10pc

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Heineken suffered a profits hangover in the first half of the year as miserable weather cooled drinkers’ thirst for lager.

The Dutch brewing giant, which owns a range of brands including Foster’s and Newcastle Brown Ale, saw beer sales volumes dip by nearly 10 per cent in the UK.

Even the recent heatwave did little to boost its fortunes, with spending still subdued amid difficult economic conditions.

Operating profits in western Europe were down 9 per cent on a like-for-like-basis though they were steady across the wider group amid better performances in markets such as Asia and central and eastern Europe.

Heineken also said it had seen encouraging early results from the launch of its ‘Radler’ products – a mix of beer and fruit juice.

The drinks – which have lower alcohol content than beers and are seen as targeting women – were launched in 12 new markets in the period, meaning they are now sold by Heineken in 24 countries.

In the UK, the brewer launched Foster’s Radler as well as several new flavours of its Bulmers cider, though it struggled with the wider performance of its product range.

“Against a backdrop of unseasonably poor weather and continued low consumer confidence, beer volume in the UK declined in the high-single digits, with cider volume declining in the mid-single digits,” the group said.

However brands such as Heineken, Desperados and Bulmers posted strong volume growth, it added.

Revenues in western Europe dropped 5 per cent on a like-for-like basis to £3.1bn on beer volumes down 8 per cent. Operating profits in the region fell by 9 per cent to £309m, compared to the same period in 2012.

Worldwide volumes declined by 3 per cent, with like-for-like revenues down 1 per cent.