Dutch brewer Heineken cheers rise in Q1 beer sales

2 min

The Hague (AFP)

Dutch brewing giant Heineken posted Wednesday an 11.0 percent rise in global beer sales volumes for the first quarter, boosted by the Chinese New Year and Easter.

But the Amsterdam-based brewer's first-quarter net profit fell by more than half to 265 million euros ($301 million), mainly because the company's execeptional sale last year of its Mexican packing arm EMPAQUE in early 2015 raised some 379 million euros after taxes.

"This has been a good first quarter supported by a strong Vietnamese and Chinese New Year period and the earlier timing of Easter," Heineken's chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said in a statement.

Heineken's beer volume climbed from 39.3 million hectolitres year-on-year to 43.5 million hectolitres -- which equates to around 1,740 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Although beer volumes showed good growth in Asia, up by 23.0 percent, and also in the Americas and Europe, Heineken's markets in Africa and the Middle East remained "challenging", Van Boxmeer said.

Beer volumes were up 4.6 percent in Africa, boosted by good sales in Nigeria and Ethiopia.

"Elsewhere in the (African) region, volume was challenging and remains weak, with both affordability and tourism continuing to impact performance," Heineken said.

In western Europe beer volumes grew by 2.3 percent, helped by mild weather and the earlier timing of Easter, the group added.

Valued at around 35 billion euros, Heineken is the world's second-largest brewer after global number one AB InBev which clinched a mega deal for its nearest rival SABMiller in November, in the third biggest takeover in global corporate history.

That transaction is set to complete in the second half of 2016, subject to shareholder and regulatory approvals.

Heineken produces and sells more than 250 brands of beer and cider, and employs about 73,000 people around the world, after being founded in the 19th century.

Looking ahead to 2016, Van Boxmeer said "full-year expectations remain unchallenged."

"Adverse currency development continues to weigh on results and foreign exchange markets remain volatile," he said.