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Coopers goes from (full) strength to strength

COOPERS BREWERY, which this year became the largest Australian owned brewer, has generated a 17.5 per cent lift in full-year profit on the back of continued strong demand for its portfolio of beers and six months of earnings contributions from its recently acquired home brewing business in the US.

The Adelaide-based and family owned Coopers easily trounced the flatlining earnings faced by its much larger global brewer competitors, such as Japanese conglomerate Kirin which owns Australia's biggest beer company Lion, and SABMiller, owner of iconic brewer Foster's.

And this year is expected to witness another strong result from Coopers, with the 2011-12 financial results not including a new deal forged in July to distribute popular brands Carlsberg and Kronenbourg and a second deal to take out a minority shareholder in its Premium Beverages joint venture.

The double-digit profit bounce for Coopers comes at a time when traditional brewers are struggling under the weight of a downturn in consumer spending and a growing trend away from drinking beer to new drinks such as ciders or craft beers sold by smaller companies and start-ups.

Accounts issued to the corporate regulator show Coopers reported a full-year net profit of $26.34 million, up from a profit of $22.422 million in 2011. Revenue for the period hit $186.3 million, up 7.5 per cent.

It has been a tough time for other brewers. Foster's reported a 13 per cent dive in sales for the June quarter while Lion recorded flat sales for its beer, spirits and wine divisions in Australia and New Zealand for the six months to March.


Coopers, which recently celebrated its 150th anniversary and currently employs members of the fifth and sixth generation of the Cooper family, became Australia's biggest locally owned brewer last year when Britain's SABMiller bought Foster's for $12 billion.

Its accounts report that in the second half of 2011-12 its newly purchased American business, home brewing products company Mr Beer, contributed revenues of $3.6 million and pre-tax profits of $500,000.

Coopers became the biggest supplier of home-brew beer kits globally after agreeing to buy 80 per cent of Mr Beer. The deal marked Coopers' first international acquisition in 30 years.

The latest Coopers annual result also revealed that shareholders were paid a special $1.50 per share dividend to mark the 150th anniversary of the company.