Heineken toasts sales rise

Heineken, the brewing giant that swallowed Scottish & Newcastle four years ago, yesterday said beer volumes in the UK grew “moderately” as it reported a 4.7 per cent rise in like-for-like group sales for the first quarter.

However, the growth in the UK was not enough to prevent a 1.2 per cent decline for western Europe, which the group blamed on its decision to withdraw one of its products from sale among discount retailers in Finland.

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The group, whose British brands include Deuchars IPA, John Smiths and Newcastle Brown Ale, also said reduced spending in pubs contributed to volume declines across Ireland, the Netherlands and Portugal.

First-quarter net profits rose 25 per cent to €175 million (£143m) while revenues grew by 6.8 per cent to €3.8 billion. Heineken said higher revenues and cost savings were partly offset by increased costs in certain high-inflation markets and raw material costs, such as barley.