AB Inbev credits marketing for UK lift

AB Inbev says Budweiser’s sponsorship of the World Cup and new product launches helped boost share and volume sales in the UK last year.

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The brewer registered a 3.4% increase in beer volumes in 2010, while its share of the UK market improved in both the on and off trade.

Millions were invested in exploiting Budweiser’s status as the official beer at the World Cup last year in a bid to grow the brand in the UK. Major campaigns to push Beck’s and the Stella portfolio were also launched.

The company also accelerated its product innovation strategy – launching Stella Artois Black and Bud 66 – as it looks to steady and grow volumes in a declining UK beer market. It unveiled a Stella branded cider last month.

Stuart MacFarlane, president of AB InBev UK, described the company’s year as a “good result in a very challenging and competitive market.”

He adds: “Our strong performance in a difficult market demonstrates that quality and a focus on innovation is key to driving this industry forward.”

Globally, revenue increased 4.4% to $36.3bn (£22.2bn), lifted by a 2.1% increase in volumes, again helped by the World Cup bump for Budweiser and portfolio-wide advances in developing markets. Pre-tax profit grew 28.3% to $5.04bn (£3.09bn).

The company, however, expects sales volumes for the first quarter of 2011 to be “soft” because of high unemployment in the US and poor weather in key market Brazil.

Despite the slowdown, it has vowed to increase marketing spend by “mid to high single digits” this year to maintain sales growth. Sales and marketing spend increased 2% globally last year.

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