Expansion after record packaged sales at Coopers

Coopers Brewery has unveiled plans to significantly expand its onsite warehousing capacity as it records increased beer sales across the country.

Australia’s largest independent family-owned brewery recorded total beer sales, excluding nonalcoholic beers, of 82.3 million litres in the 12 months to June 30, 2021.

This represented a 2.8% increase in sales volume from the previous financial year but is still below the record volume result of 83.8 million litres achieved in 2016-17.

Coopers Managing Director Dr Tim Cooper said the brewery achieved “better than expected” sales results given the lingering effects of the global pandemic during the 2021 financial year.

“The challenges faced by the hospitality industry and related consumer spending behaviour had varying impacts on the sales of packaged, bulk and DIY beer,” Dr Cooper said.

“Bulk, or kegged beer, has continued to be under pressure, and was down 21% on the volume of the 2019 financial year, but more than 35% down on the peak volume of 13.4 million litres
achieved 10 years ago in the 2011 financial year.

“However, overall, we’re seeing consumers continue to gravitate towards authentic brands they can trust with emphasis on high quality and local provenance. That is driving demand for Coopers beer despite the pandemic still acting to suppress keg sales across the industry.”

Led by the increasingly popular can format, packaged sales reached their highest volume on record.

“Cans continued their ascendency and now represent more than 30% of our packaged beer sales,” he said.

“Coopers Pale Ale is our clear leader in this format but well supported by XPA, Sparkling Ale and Mild Ale, with the latter benefiting from a strong trend towards mid-strength beer.”

Growth in Coopers packaged beer in 2020-21 compensated for reduced keg sales, which remain affected by the severe downturn in hospitality trade.

“We took the opportunity to invest over $2 million in upgrading our keg line during the year and refurbish 55,000 kegs,” Dr Cooper said.

“We have also just submitted plans to Council for a 5500 square metre expansion to our warehousing facilities at Regency Park. This $15 million investment, which boosts our beer storage capacity at the brewery by almost 50%, will allow us to store all our product on site where currently we use some off-site facilities for additional requirements.”

Across Australia, the varied experiences with the pandemic were reflected in the state-by-state sales volume results:

  • South Australia – Up 6.6%
  • Northern Territory – Up 6.0%
  • Queensland – Up 3.0%
  • Victoria – Up 1.8%
  • Western Australia – Up 2.6%
  • New South Wales – Down 0.2%

Coopers’ portfolio was expanded during the year with the limited releases of Hazy IPA and Australian IPA, while the relaunch of Pacific Pale Ale appealed to fans of summer-style beer.
Strong demand for Coopers high quality malt, particularly from new and existing international customers across Asia, has the plant operating at near capacity.

Homebrewers remained active globally, pushing export sales of DIY beer up by 31% while domestic sales moderated after the strong sales last year.

Profit-before-tax for 2020-21 was $36.5 million, compared with $34.3 million the previous year, with lower operational and external expenses having an impact on the bottom line.

Fully franked dividends of $13.50 per share were paid in the financial year. A share buyback has also recently been announced, accessible to all of Coopers more than 170 shareholders at a price of $425 per share.

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