Beer giant InBev today said sales of its flagship beer Stella Artois have fallen sharply in the UK.
The Belgian brewer said worldwide sales of Stella dropped by 3.9%, which it attributed primarily to the “weak UK market”.
The Leuven-based group said the UK and Ireland was its worst performing market in western Europe.
Overall half year volumes in the UK dropped by 9.7% and contributed to a decline in Europe of 4.6%.
InBev has been avoiding cutting the price of Stella in the UK, saying it would devalue the beer’s prestigious image.
Stella is marketed in the UK as “reassuringly expensive”.
A spokeswoman for InBev said: “There is a value attached to consumers’ perception of the Stella brand, so if you start discounting it, it could involve risks.”
The spokeswoman added that InBev was having to face up to strong comparative figures in the UK last year, which were helped by one-off events such as the Euro 2004 European football championships.
As well as Stella, InBev’s brands include German lager Beck’s, Czech beer Staropramen, British ale Bass, Leffe and Hoegaarden.