Coopers reaps rewards of move to cans

Coopers Brewery has continued on its growth trajectory after a period of investment in modernisation.

Total beer sales for its financial year to 30th June 2020 rose to 79.8 million litres, up from 76.8 million the year before.

Back in 2018, Coopers reported its first decline in volumes in 24 years, and a 9.1 per cent decline on the record volume sold in 2017, to around 75.3 million litres.

Since then it has returned to growth, but it has still not managed to return to the record high of 84 million litres sold in 2017.

Its new contemporary brands including XPA and Pacific Ale combined represented 7.4 per cent of its volumes this year. Its Hazy IPA was yet to feature, having been released in its new financial year.

Meanwhile, its mainstays combined represented 60.6 per cent of its volumes, with Coopers Pale Ale contributing 48 per cent on its own.

In terms of comparative growth, packaged-only Pale Ale volumes grew 6.1 per cent, and packaged Sparkling rose 12.6 per cent.

Coopers has been involved in a modernisation programme, moving its Session Ale into packaged format in March 2018 and Coopers Dry the following September, while Original Pale Ale was made available in cans in August 2019.

Articles published under the media release byline are news produced by the relevant business and remain unedited by Brews News. This media release was circulated by Coopers.

A national consumer-led movement towards trusted, reliable and locally made beer brands has seen Australia’s largest family-owned brewery record a solid increase in sales during the 2020 financial year.

Coopers Brewery recorded a 3.9% rise in total beer sales for the 12 months to June 30, 2020 underpinned by increased demand for its portfolio of cans.

“In a time of such uncertainty, Australian beer drinkers appear to be choosing brands they feel they can trust,” Dr Cooper said.

“The pandemic has had a significant impact on Australia’s hospitality industry and our keg sales, in particular, suffered as a result. “To have emerged in an overall strong position is testament to the loyalty of beer drinkers, the sheer resilience of hoteliers and publicans and the determination of our team at Coopers Brewery.

“We’re looking to the year ahead with cautious optimism.”

Total beer sales, excluding non-alcoholic beers, for the financial year rose to 79.8 million litres, up from the 76.8 million litres recorded for the previous year.

Across the states, sales volumes increased as follows, apart from a small decline in the NT:

  • 13.6% in Western Australia
  • 5.8% in New South Wales
  • 4.4% in Queensland
  • 2.7% in Victoria
  • 0.4% in South Australia
  • -1.3% in the Northern Territory

Coopers’ growing portfolio of cans continues to strike a chord amongst a broader consumer demographic, with XPA, Pale Ale and Sparkling Ale among the standouts in this packaging format.

Coopers Best Extra Stout, one of the brewery’s oldest beers, has also enjoyed a resurgence among Australian consumers, with sales hitting their highest levels in more than half a century.

However, sales of Coopers international partner brand beers fell 2.5% during the financial year, and keg sales fell 24.4% as social restrictions kept patrons away from pubs across the country.

“We introduced a number of initiatives to support hotels and venues over this challenging time, including offering refunds on full kegs returned to the company. In total, 13,000 kegs were collected from venues across Australia at a cost of over $3 million.

“We also launched our online Live, Loud and Local series, a unique ‘virtual pub’ experience featuring A-list musicians, chefs and celebrities showcasing pub culture at its best,” Dr Cooper

“We’re planning more campaigns and events to assist venues on the road to recovery over the coming months.”

Coopers also posted a strong increase in sales of DIY brew kits arising from higher demand during the COVID-19 lockdown. Although retail sales experienced a decline in the first half of the financial year, outstanding growth of 166% in the last four months resulted in DIY beer concentrate sales rising by 6%, from 2,600 tonnes last year to 2,757 tonnes this year.

Malted barley production – sales of which now represent around 10% of Coopers’ revenue – increased 30%, from 44,300 tonnes to 57,900 tonnes, reflecting a growing demand across Asia for
high-quality malt.

Profit-before-tax for 2019-20 was $34.3 million, similar to the level recorded in the 2018 financial year, and a strong recovery from the $23.1 million recorded in the 2019 financial year.

During the year, around $20.7 million was paid down on debt.

Fully franked dividends of $12 per share were paid in the 2020 financial year, down from $13 last year. This is the first time Coopers has declared a reduced dividend since 1994 and reflects the conservative position taken by the Board in a period of uncertainty.

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