DB Breweries owner Heineken cut the dividend it took from the New Zealand brewer by more than a third in 2015, despite a rise in profits.
The brewer, which owns bars and brands including Tui, Monteiths and Redwood Cider, saw sales fall 3.4 per cent to $487 million in 2015, down from $504 million in 2014. Profit rose to $25.1 million from $22.3 million, an increase of 11 per cent that was driven by falling excise duty, raw materials and packaging costs.
The dividend to its parent, Dutch brewing giant Heineken, fell 37.3 per cent to $20.1 million from $32.1 million a year earlier. A loan of $136.2 million to a related party, Belgian company Mouterj Albert, is due to be repaid in May 2016 and is currently attracting an interest rate of 3.87 per cent. DB's finance expenses rose 1.8 per cent to $6 million from $5.9 million.
DB imported a third less beer than the year earlier, with the cost falling to $13.7 million in 2015, down from $20.9 million in 2014.
This may reflect the increased demand in New Zealand for boutique or craft beers. An ANZ Bank report on the sector, published last year, said off-premise craft beer sales had risen 42 percent between 2014 and 2015.
Statistics New Zealand said the total volume of pure alcohol sold in the country fell 4.1 per cent in 2015.
Matt Wilson, DB Breweries corporate relations and legal director said: "In a year where the beer market continued to decline and hospitality felt the strain of new drink-drive legislation, DB Breweries had a satisfactory 2015 result with lifts in both profit and earnings before interest and taxation.
We are pleased to see the beer and cider markets responding strongly in 2016 with the overall market, as well as DB's market share, in growth."
DB's results echo those of rival Lion. In February, Lion said sales volumes had fallen 4.4 per cent in New Zealand with the alcohol market at its lowest level in 18 years.