AB Inbev and Diageo enjoy strong UK sales amid heatwave

Drinks giants AB Inbev and Diageo have reported strong UK sales as the warm weather and sporting action sparked rising demand for beer and spirits.

Stella Artois and Budweiser supplier AB Inbev reported 0.9% volume growth in the UK in Q2, as Stella retained is status Britain’s biggest off-trade alcohol brand.

Jason Warner, president of North Europe for AB Inbev, said: “Our UK business momentum continued, delivering double-digit revenue growth again in the first half of this year for the third year running. In the second quarter we saw sales of our premium beers benefiting from the warm weather and busy sports calendar.

“Growth of our global brands accelerated this quarter. Budweiser is now the UK’s second biggest beer brand in the off-trade [Nielsen, year to April 2018], and has had a brilliant year so far. As official beer of the FIFA World Cup, we activated a huge campaign across 12,000 pubs and bars and 26,000 retail outlets, helping us to become the most talked about brand of the tournament and contributing to a great sales uplift.”

Smirnoff is the UK’s second bestselling alcoholic drinks brand and supplier Diageo also reported soaring sales in Britain so far this year.

General manager Charles Ireland said: “We’ve experienced a good year in Great Britain, with net sales increasing 8% and our key brands, including Guinness, Tanqueray and Gordon’s, performing well. Reserve [premium] brands delivered double digit net sales, led by Scotch.

“Our gin and beer portfolios in Great Britain performed well during the year, with Guinness delivering net sales growth of 8%, driven by strong performances in Guinness Draught and Hop House 13 Lager. In gin, Tanqueray’s popularity continues to grow, gaining share in the category and delivering strong double digit net sales growth.

“We have continued to successfully innovate during the year, with Gordon’s Pink Gin attracting new consumers to the Gordon’s brand and Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla tapping into the consumer interest in flavoured gin.

“Since January we’ve showcased a host of new campaigns and innovative marketing to reach more consumers. In May Gordon’s launched the first ever TV campaign for Gordon’s Pink Gin and in March Guinness hosted its first Open Gate Bar at London Beer Week. Cîroc also celebrated the arrival of summer by taking over the window display of Selfridges’ flagship Oxford Street store to mark the launch of two, limited edition designs of Cîroc Summer Colada.

“In Scotch, Great Britain net sales grew 6%, driven by Johnnie Walker and scotch malts. I was particularly delighted to see the launch of the Johnnie Walker ‘My Edition’ online pilot, a whisky personalisation experience that enables consumers to discover the wide range of flavours found in Johnnie Walker whiskies.”

Beer sales have flourished during the heatwave that has gripped Britain, but a CO2 shortage has prevented brewers from totally capitalising on the opportunity.

Warner said: “We will keep investing in sustainability. Thanks to the green technology, such as CO2 recovery systems, in place at our breweries we were unaffected by the recent CO2 shortage and want to make sure we can continue to make the nation’s favourite beers sustainably for years to come.”

He added: “Stella Artois has also retained its top spot as Britain’s biggest alcohol brand in the off-trade and is continuing to grow value, even ahead of volume. Limited-edition packaging, partnerships with iconic sporting events like Royal Ascot and Wimbledon and an emphasis on food pairing in the on-trade have boosted the brand’s premium credentials even further.

“Corona has also had a strong quarter. As a brand that’s often associated with the beach, it has stepped up its bid to raise awareness of marine plastic pollution, with an attention-grabbing plastic wave installation in London for World Oceans Day, as part of its partnership with Parley for the Oceans.

“In its second year since launch, Bud Light continues to create value, as the second largest driver of off-trade value growth. The brand also increased volumes by double-digits in the second quarter, leading the way for our low-alcohol beer initiatives as part of our Global Smart Drinking Goals.

“Looking ahead, we will maintain a focus on our global brands, low-alcohol and alcohol-free portfolio and the craft side of the category, as Goose Island and Camden Town are now the fastest growing craft brand families in the on trade.”

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