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Asahi's Independent Liquor lifts 2017 sales, keeping margins intact

Wednesday 6th June 2018

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Independent Liquor NZ, which owns alcohol brands such as Woodstock Bourbon and Boundary Road beer, increased sales in 2017 while keeping its margins intact, resulting in a 53 percent gain in net profit.

Profit attributable to the owner rose to $23.4 million in calendar 2017 from $15.3 million a year earlier, according to the Papakura-based company's financial statements. Sales rose to $408.6 million from $352 million in 2016. Cost of sales remained steady at around 70 percent. 

Japan's Asahi Group acquired Independent Liquor in 2011 for $1.5 billion from shareholders including buyout firms Pacific Equity Partners, Unitas Capital and Michael Erceg's widow. It later fought the vendors in court over the terms of the deal and wrote down the value of its assets in 2015. The country's largest maker of ready-to-drink alcoholic beverages now has a full suite of products in the adult drinks market - wines and beers, both local and international brands such as Penfolds and Asahi Super Dry, ciders, and RTDs such as Vodka Cruiser and Woodstock Bourbon and Cola.

Independent Liquor spent more on sales and marketing in 2017 at $34 million from $29 million in 2016, but it managed to trim manufacturing overheads to $13.8 million from $15.8 million while administration costs fell to $16 million from $18.7 million. Inventories stood at $40.8 million, up from about $35 million a year earlier.

Asahi also owns Better Drinks Co, the Auckland-based company that has Charlie's brand juices and fruit drinks, Phoenix soft drinks and iced teas.

Better Drinks had revenue of $31 million in 2017, up from $29 million in 2016. It recorded a loss of $4.1 million, little changed from a year earlier. The company annually assesses the carrying values of its brands, having fully impaired goodwill in previous years. In 2017, the impairment loss recognised against its brands was $3.6 million, versus $3.7 million a year earlier.


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