Dutch brewer Grolsch has posted net profits of €30.1 million for 2002, a 5 per cent increase and in line with the company's own expectations. Operating profits rose 10.4 per cent to €42.6 million on the back of record sales for the Grolsch brand of more than 3 million hectolitres, up 4.8 per cent. Value sales for the year rose 8.7 per cent in 2002 to €296.5 million.
Volume growth in the UK and other foreign markets, price increases in the Netherlands (partly as a result of higher duty) and the US and an increase in production for third parties all had a positive impact on results, the company said. However, the decline of the Dutch beer market and lower exchange rates had a slight negative effect on turnover.
The Dutch beer market shrank 1.1 per cent in 2002, although Grolsch said it maintained its market share, increasing sales in the on-trade in particular. The launch of Zinniz, Grolsch's new fruit-flavoured beer brand, boosted sales in volume terms during the year, although its initial popularity was not maintained throughout the year as a whole.
Grolsch's iconic swing-top bottle also saw a drop in sales in the local market during 2002.
Beer sales outside the Netherlands rose 16 per cent in volume during 2002, led by the 21 per cent rise in the UK. Sales grew 6 per cent in the US over the year, despite lower volumes early in the year. Grolsch also formed new alliances during 2002 - one with Sleeman in Canada, the other with Warsteiner in Germany, which will help improve both distribution and purchasing power.
Grolsch's new brewery in Enschede will begin producing beer by the end of this year, the company said, with the old Enschede plant set to close in 2005. Grolsch's other brewery, in Groenlo, will close in 2004 and production will be transferred to the new site. The company is planning to spend around €110 million on the new plant this year.
For 2003 as a whole, Grolsch is predicting volumes of around the same level in the Dutch market as in 2002, despite an expected decline in consumption there. Continued growth is expected in other countries, mainly in the UK, the US, Canada and other key markets.