Christopher Adams

The Business Herald’s markets and banking reporter.

Moa chases big brewers' customers

Geoff Ross from Moa Beer. Photo /  Dean Purcell.
Geoff Ross from Moa Beer. Photo / Dean Purcell.

Why scrap over 2 per cent of the beer market?

That's the question being posed by Moa Brewing Company chief executive Geoff Ross.

Despite all the hype about craft beer, it still only accounts for about 2 per cent of New Zealand's total beer trade. And there are about 70 breweries fighting over that slice of the market.

Ross said hardcore craft beer drinkers were "fickle", regularly jumping from one brand to the next.

The premium end of the mainstream market - brands such as Stella, Heineken and Peroni - accounted for about 20 per cent of this country's beer trade and Moa's strategy was to convert drinkers from that segment over to its products, he said.

Ross said the NZX-listed firm, which brews its beer in Blenheim, did not view other Kiwi craft beer brands such as Epic and Tuatara as its biggest competitors.

"It's Lion and DB, really," he said. "We don't want 10 per cent of 2 per cent. We want 5 per cent of 20 per cent."

Moa's share price tumbled in August after the company said sales volumes for the 12 months to March 31 would be 30 per cent lower than the target of 195,000 cases published in its initial public offer prospectus. The company said the reduction was largely a result of a sales shortfall in this country - its biggest market.

Moa has since dropped its New Zealand distributor, Treasury Wine Estates, and implemented a new distribution model. Since October 1, internal Moa staff have been working on sales, while warehousing and logistics have been provided by wholesaler Tasman Allied Liquor.

"It's a complete change," Ross said. "We're directly involved, whereas in the previous arrangement we were very hands off."

He said that between dropping Treasury Wine Estates on August 12 and implementing the new distribution model there had been a "lack of momentum and drop in sales".

"We'll have our half-year result out in November that will show all of that."

Moa now has two sales staff in Sydney, one of whom is former New Zealand cricketer Daryl Tuffey.

Ross said Moa's pirate-themed bar at the America's Cup venue in San Francisco had provided valuable brand exposure in the United States.

Moa shares, which debuted at $1.25 in the IPO last year, closed at 80c on Friday.

- NZ Herald

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