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United Breweries sees profits soar thanks to Kingfisher brand

Heineken’s United Breweries Limited (UBL) has recorded a more than five-fold leap in profit in the January – March period of 2023-24.

The beer business saw net profits rocket to Rs 80.15 crore (£7.7m) and, according to an exchange filing, revenue from operations rose 17% to Rs 4,788.68 crore (£459m) in the last quarter of FY24 compared to Rs 4,081.01 crore (£391m) in the same quarter a year ago.

According to local reports, the premium segment grew 21% in the quarter and the company saw strong growth for Kingfisher Ultra and Kingfisher Ultra Max as the lager brand’s popularity drove premium volume growth across the south and eastern Asia regions.

Speaking about the results, a spokesperson for UBL said: “Volume in Q4 increased 10.9% predominantly driven by south and east regions. We continue to invest behind our brands and capabilities in combination with revenue management and cost initiatives. Investments in CAPEX during the year were Rs 190 crore (£18m), primarily in supply chain initiatives to cater for future growth.”

According to the filing, total expenses rose to Rs 4,705.38 crore (£451m) in the quarter under review from Rs 4,079.32 crore (£391m) in the year-ago period. Meanwhile, net profit for the full fiscal year ended on 31 March 2024 and had risen 33% to Rs 412.59 crore (£40m) compared to Rs 308.10 crore (£30m) in the previous year.

Total income rose 10.49% to Rs 18,453.27 crore (£1.8bn) in FY24 compared to Rs 16,700.52 crore (£1.6bn) in the previous year, the filing stated.

Describing the company’s view and outlook for the future, the beer giant outlined that even though it remains cautious, it was at least “optimistic” for how things will develop from here and noted the business’s strategy taking into account how discernment among drinkers is shaping the way.

The UBL spokesperson added: “Despite some inflationary softening as seen from Q2, volatility will remain. We remain optimistic about the long-term growth potential of the industry, driven by increasing disposable income, favourable demographics and premiumisation.”

Along with the filing, the UBL board also recommended a final dividend of Rs 10 (£0.10) per share of the face of Re 1 for the 2023-24 financial year. The dividend, if approved by shareholders, will be paid on or before 30 August 2024. UBL shares closed 0.96% at Rs 2,001.75 (£19.19) per share on BSE.

Back in March, UBL launched a new beer in India, named Queenfisher, via its Kingfisher brand. The new lager, which was positioned as “a celebration of sisterhood amidst International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, used the slogan “Queen of Good Times” and was priced at INR80 per 500ml can.

In September 2023, UBL appointed Vivek Gupta to lead the firm as its new CEO and managing director, a decision that would see him take on the position for a period of five years.

Heineken has been integrating UBL into its business since its acquisition of the company in July 2021. One of Gupta’s primary roles within the company is to assist in the Kingfisher beer brand to regain its ground and re-assert its premium position within the beer sector.

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