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Editor’s Note: Last year, Coopers reported a 9.1 per cent decline in sales on the year before.
The launch of new products Coopers Session Ale and Coopers Dry and the release of Coopers Original Pale Ale in cans helped Coopers Brewery achieve a 2% growth in sales volumes during 2018-19 to 76.8 million litres.
Session Ale was launched in packaged format in March 2018 and Coopers Dry the following September, while Original Pale Ale was made available in cans in August.
In releasing the company’s annual results, Coopers’ Managing Director, Dr Tim Cooper said Session Ale had enjoyed solid growth since its release and now represented an important part of the Coopers’ ale portfolio.
“Coopers Dry entered the market to replace Coopers Clear and has been able to carve out a share of the dry or low-carb sector with sales exceeding initial expectations,” he said.
“The release of Coopers Original Pale Ale in cans in August 2018 helped boost sales for our leading product, especially in the second half of the year. The Pale Ale cans have greatly exceeded the sales of the former Dr Tim’s Traditional Ale, which nonetheless served its purpose as a trial product.”
Across Australia, Queensland led the way with sales volumes rising by 6.1%. In Western Australia sales rose by 3.1%, Victoria by 2.9% and South Australia by 2%. Sales in NSW were steady.
Malt sales for the year rose by 132% to 44,300 tonnes, although this came from a low base.
“The maltings is now running close to full capacity, providing significant improvements in malt quality and cost savings on one of our key raw ingredients,” Dr Cooper said.
Dr Cooper said that while beer sales volumes had increased, profit before tax had declined to $23.1 million, compared with $34.3 million the previous year.
“The reduced profit was attributable to a changing sales mix, higher barley prices and more competitive market conditions with some segments showing declines in retail pricing,” he said.
“The latter renders difficult our ability to recover higher excise duties and costs arising from the imposition of container deposit schemes.
“Interest and borrowing costs increased by $1.7 million during the year reflecting the debt incurred by the malting project and previous share buybacks.
“Sales of manufactured partner brands also fell 11.4%, partly attributable to the conclusion of Coopers’ agreement with Brooklyn Brewery in December 2018. On the other hand, volumes of our naturally conditioned ales and stout increased by 3.1% to represent 81% of total volume.”
Coopers paid fully franked dividends totalling $13.00 per share during the year, compared with $12.50 in 2017-18.
Dr Cooper said sales in the first few months of the new financial year had been positive with strong growth in XPA, which was released in can format in August.
The release of Sparkling Ale in cans in August had also been well received.