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DB Celebrates Strong Growth


DB Celebrates Strong Growth

DB Breweries' directors believe the company's strong growth trend will continue to deliver shareholder returns well above the market average.

"Over past years shareholders have seen good dividend payments and 2003 was no exception," said company chairman Sir Colin Maiden this morning at the company's annual shareholders' meeting in Auckland.

Sir Colin noted the impressive 97.5% return delivered to DB shareholders since December 2000, which far outweighed the 37.5% average return for the NZSX40 for the same period.

"The company continues to create value, with shareholders' equity standing at $147.2 million as at 30 September, compared with $136.6 million in 2002."

Sir Colin recognised that DB's annual result ? which saw the company record a net profit after tax and minorities of $25.4 million, 13% up on the previous year ? was even more pleasing given the significant structural changes implemented during the financial year.

The company's managing director Brian Blake said the company's strong performance was underpinned by a significant 10.7% lift in sales.

"Volume and market share showed solid growth on the previous year, with increased sales reflecting the ongoing popularity of DB's brands," said Mr Blake.

Mr Blake reported that key performers Heineken, Monteith's and Tui had all again achieved double-digit growth.

Heineken had retained its number one position in the premium segment with a number of innovative marketing activities, capitalising in particular on the brand's Rugby World Cup sponsorship he said.

As well as underpinning and growing existing brands, Mr Blake said comprehensive marketing strategies had also supported the entry of new brands into the market, including Amstel Light.

"The introduction of Amstel Light is an important part of our commitment to encouraging responsible drinking behaviour. Although it contains just 2.5% alcohol, there is absolutely no compromise on its full-bodied flavour."

Looking forward, Mr Blake reported that the first quarter had seen a strong performance with sales volumes and margin in line with budget and ahead of last year.

He said company growth would continue, with an ongoing focus on the 10% EBIT growth target. While recognising this as an ambitious target in a mature market, he said the company was confident in its outlook.

"We are well placed to achieve it through our strong brand equity, the pursuit of new distribution opportunities, an ongoing focus on effectiveness and efficiency and the constant upskilling of our people."

All resolutions were passed at the meeting and the board had confirmed Sir Colin Maiden and Mr Norman Geary as independent directors of the company (in terms of the new NZX listing rules).

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