No ‘vintage quarter’ for Heineken as Asian sales slashed

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Heineken has been “deeply affected” by the return of lockdowns in Asia as beer sales plunged by more than a third.

The world’s second-largest brewer said volumes sold fell by 5.1 per cent in the three months to September, largely because of the 37.4 per cent nosedive across the continent.

It put this down to the return of Covid restrictions in Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Malaysia as Covid-19 cases surged.

According to the Financial Times, Heineken has an especially strong presence in Vietnam, which is one of its biggest markets.

READ MORE: Heineken launches low-carbon barley farming trial

However, sales in Singapore, South Korea and Laos returned to pre-pandemic levels.

“As anticipated, our Asia Pacific region was deeply impacted by the pandemic in the third quarter,” chief executive Dolf van der Brink said.

“We see first signs of recovery and I admire the resilience and solidarity of our people as we navigate these challenges.”

He added that the group’s full-year expectations were unchanged, with results set to come in below those of 2019.

In February, after almost a year of Covid grief, the Dutch multinational announced 8000 job cuts plus €2bn of savings over two years.

Speaking before the trading update, Citi analyst Simon Hales said its cost-cutting would leave Heineken in a relatively good position to deal with inflation.

Van den Brink said: “The macro environment remains volatile and we are responding accordingly. 

“We are taking an assertive approach to pricing and cost across all of our markets to meet this challenge.”

Sales in Africa, the Middle East and Europe rose 5.5 per cent, but those in the Americas and Europe declined 3.4 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively. 

Heineken did not provide figures on pricing or margins.

“With beer volume growth in Europe and the Americas missing expectations too, this was not a vintage quarter for Heineken,” RBC analyst James Edwardes Jones said.

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