C&C acquisition of Matthew Clark 'stabilised industry' says AB InBev boss

By Nicholas Robinson

- Last updated on GMT

Good results: AB InBev shows strong start to the year
Good results: AB InBev shows strong start to the year

Related tags Beer Ab inbev Ab inbev uk Stella artois Budweiser Corona

AB InBev’s support during C&C Group’s recent acquisition of Matthew Clark Bibendum has 'helped stabilise and assure the drinks industry', one of the beer goliath’s bosses has said.

Jason Warner, who is AB InBev’s Northern Europe president, said the company was “pleased to be able to support C&C Group” in the acquisition of Matthew Clark and Bibendum from beleaguered parent company Conviviality last month.

“The UK pub and hospitality sector is so crucial to our industry, and wider economy, which is why we were pleased to be able to support C&C Group last month in its bid for Matthew Clark Bibendum, part of Conviviality,” said Warner in a first-quarter sales update today (9 May).

“The move gave stability and assurance to the drinks industry, ensuring its future health, and we look forward to continuing our good working relationship with our partners over the coming months and years.”

AB InBev’s UK sales results showed a strong start to the year, added Warner, with double-digit revenue growth.

The launch of Bud Light had grown market volume, while the brand’s foray into bottles had been received well so far.

‘No- and low-alcohol’

“Elsewhere in our no- and low-alcohol portfolio we are seeing strong momentum, with a nationwide sampling tour of our Budweiser Prohibition in January, giving out 200,000 beers for all those moderating in the New Year,” added Warner.

“This area will remain a focus for us, as part of our Global Smart Drinking Goals, to ensure 20% of our global volume [sales] are no-or-low-alcohol by 2025.”

Total AB InBev revenue grew by 4.7% in the first quarter of 2018, with revenue per-hectolitre of beer sold up 4.9%.

Total volume sales dipped by 0.2%, while own beer volumes grew 0.5%.

In terms of trends shaping the market, premiumisation continues to drive growth in value and volume the category

– Jason Warner, AB InBev

The three giants in the portfolio – Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona – grew revenue by 7.9% globally. UK Stella Artois revenue rose by 12.3%, putting in a particularly strong performance in the UK.

Profits for the first quarter were down from $1.46bn (£1.08bn) in 2017 to $1.44bn (£1.06bn)) this year.

Of the UK market, AB InBev said: “Our UK business delivered double-digit revenue growth, despite cycling a tough comparable.”

‘Trends shaping the market’

Looking to the future, Warner added: “In terms of trends shaping the market, premiumisation continues to drive growth in value and volume in the category.”

Meanwhile, Conviviality filed notice to appoint administrators​ in March, after it warned of going bust due to a £30m tax bill and further debts to creditors.

The move left pubs, such as JD Wetherspoon, planning for the worst if a buyer​ for the business, which supplied a considerable amount of stock to pubcos, was not found.

C&C announced it was looking to buy Matthew Clark and Bibendum​ from Conviviality, with the support of AB InBev.

Less than a day after announcing its interest, C&C acquired​ the two brands, along with several subsidiary names.

Following the deal, The Morning Advertiser ​explored what the acquisition meant for the pub​ trade.

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