The boss of Australia’s second-largest beer company, Lion Group, expects the beer category to show its resilience if economic conditions worsen, because some spirits and wine drinkers will trade down as prices climb in those higher-priced segments.
Sam Fischer, who became chief executive of Lion in mid-2022 overseeing beer brands including Tooheys, XXXX Gold, Furphy, Hahn and West End, said the company was closely monitoring the cost-of-living pressures and fallout from rising interest rates.
But its sales are solid and the return to people socialising in pubs and bars after the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic is underpinning it. “There is still a lot of energy around socialising,” he said.
There was a little bit of softness in Easter trading, but no significant fall in beer sales which he anticipated would remain robust. Some switching out of ready-to-drink spirits and higher-end spirits to beer is likely to happen by consumers looking more closely at value options. “They can jump categories to go into beer,” he said.
“There is the potential for some down-trading.
This is already showing up in a slowing of growth rates for some ready-to-drink spirits brands at retail liquor chains Dan Murphy’s and BWS, outlined by Steve Donohue, the CEO of Endeavour Group, when he reported third quarter sales on May 2.