Interbrew, the Belgian beer giant which makes famous tipples including Stella Artois and Beck’s lager, today said thirsty drinkers helped grow sales by 4.5% in the first half of 2003.
The fast-expanding group measures organic sales growth by stripping out extra sales from acquisitions and other factor such as currency translations.
Beer lovers helped Interbrew grow its market share in the period to 18.4% in the UK, thanks to a strong performance from Stella – which saw volumes rise 12.3% – and Scottish favourite Tennant’s lager.
This helped offset a 5% fall in German beer consumption, due to a new deposit tax on non-returnable packaging.
The company said pre-tax profits rose 8.6% to €622m as Interbrew focused on volume growth.
Interbrew has acquired a host of well known brands in recent years, including Beck’s in Germany.
But the company was forced to sell Carling last year to US brewer Coors in order to get approval from competition watchdogs for its acquisition of Bass Brewing.
It was left with Bass’ operations in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Tennents lager and Bass bitter – which is brewed under licence by Coors in Burton-on-Trent.
More recent developments have seen the company pour money into Eastern Europe, South Korea and China as it looks to tap into emerging markets.
Reporting figures for the first half, Interbrew said the negative impact of currency translations had seen the strengthening euro dampen profits.
Chief executive John Brock said: “As we increase our strategic focus on brand building, operational excellence and selective acquisitions, we anticipate strong continued growth.”
Interbrew employs more than 35,000 people across operations in 21 countries.