Brewers bullish despite challenging beer market

Shepherd Neame has reported an increase in beer volumes, despite poor weather conditions and challenging economic conditions.

The Spitfire and Bishop’s Finger brewer said total beer volumes rose 0.6% in the six months to December 25. Turnover rose 1.6% to £61.7 million and operating profit was static at £6.4 million.

Chairman Miles Templeman said: “The market is under volume and margin pressure but our key brands are performing well. During the period Spitfire volume grew by 1.4%, Bishop’s Finger by 7.9% and Asahi by 25.5%.

“We have continued to invest in developing our brands and strengthening our marketing team. During the period we have entered a high profile partnership with the Royal Albert Hall which includes the installation of branded Spitfire and Asahi bars.

“In the brewery we have driven further benefits from our recent investment in a new bottling line and SAP IT platform.”

Meanwhile Marstons has issued a trading statement for the 23 weeks to March 12, in which it reports own-brewed beer volumes up 4% on last year, “comparing favourably to a UK ale market down by around 7%”.

The Pedigree and Hobgoblin brewer said: “Our focus on localness and premium ale continues to drive growth, with premium cask ale up 5% and bottled ale up 16% in the period.”