Hamish Fletcher

Hamish Fletcher is a business reporter for the NZ Herald

Brewer Moa lost in beer market, says fund manager

Grant Baker (left) and Geoff Ross from Moa face hard questions at the firm's annual meeting. Photo / Dean Purcell
Grant Baker (left) and Geoff Ross from Moa face hard questions at the firm's annual meeting. Photo / Dean Purcell

Moa appeared to be lost in the beer market, fund manager Brian Gaynor said as he interrogated its board at the listed beer company's annual meeting yesterday on why sales volumes are expected to be 30 per cent behind targets for this year.

The company, which listed on the NZX in November, estimates sales volumes for the 12 months to March 31 next year will be lower than the target of 195,000 cases published in its initial public offer prospectus.

Moa said last week the reduction was largely a result of a sales shortfall in this country, its biggest market by far, accounting for 70 per cent of the brewer's $4.4 million revenue in the 2013 financial year.

The company blames its New Zealand distributor. Moa said yesterday it was changing its distribution model and bringing its sales force back in house.

Chief executive Geoff Ross said the half-year result would bear the brunt of the distribution changeover and that there would be a lull before the company could regain momentum when this new distribution model is implemented from October 1.

As a result of the shortfall, Moa's growth plans would be pushed back by six to nine months, Ross said.

Gaynor, executive director at Milford Asset Management, said just transferring distribution back to the company would not solve all its problems and asked what Moa was going to do to help sales.

Chairman Grant Baker replied that the distributor had a big catalogue and that Moa was probably not at the "top of list" when they went to sell products.

"There's lot of little nuances in it but I think the main one is we're going to be 100 per cent focused on [selling Moa]," Baker said.

"That still doesn't answer it for me," Gaynor replied. "You seem to be lost halfway between a regional beer and a craft beer, you know. You're not connecting with the 21-year-olds, 25-year-olds, 30-year-olds, which are the craft beer drinkers. You're trying to put yourself up at the top of the market but you're also not connecting with those [consumers] either."

Milford disclosed on Monday that it no longer had a substantial holding in Moa and now holds 4.93 per cent of its shares, down from 5.92 per cent at its previous disclosure.

Other shareholders commented that Moa was not advertising in grocery store mailouts and that the beer was difficult to find in some supermarkets.

Moa shares closed down 1.19 per cent yesterday at 83c and have slipped 42c from the beginning of August.

- NZ Herald

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