Five years of progress
It's now five years since SAB was listed on the London Stock Exchange. In 1999, we had 39 breweries, operated in 18 countries and sold 48 million hectolitres of beer and 70 million hectolitres of beverage overall. Contrast that with today's figures: 81 breweries; operations in 43 countries on four continents; annual beer sales of 138 million hectolitres and total beverage sales of 174 million hectolitres. Also over this period, the company's market capitalisation has grown from £3.4 billion to £6.6 billion, and we have risen from number 81 in the FTSE 100 to number 34 as at market close on 20 May, the day of our preliminary results announcement. Since our listing, our total shareholder return has been a gratifying 74% compared with negative 17% for the FTSE 100 as a whole.
In 1999, we set out a three-part strategy for growth – improving our volumes, margins and cash flow in South Africa; expanding our positions in other developing markets; and seeking major, value-adding investments in both developing and established markets. Our London listing, as we said at the time, would “enhance the ability of SAB to take advantage of increasing consolidation in the international brewing industry and to compete with other international brewers for development opportunities throughout the world.”
Milestones over the five years include our success in Poland; the purchase of Pilsner Urquell in the Czech Republic in 1999; our move into India in 2000; being the first international brewer to enter Central America in 2001; forming a pan-African alliance with Castel to invest in new African markets in 2001; and, in 2002, acquiring Miller Brewing Company, the second largest brewer in the US. More recently, we achieved incremental expansion in China and Poland, we acquired Peroni in Italy and formed a new Indian joint venture. In addition, we've grown to become one of the world's largest Coca-Cola bottlers.
From our South African origins, we've risen to the top league of the international brewing industry by the planned and careful process we outlined five years ago. The result is a spread of operations, well balanced between fastgrowing developing markets and cashgenerating developed markets. In his chief executive's review, Graham Mackay explains how we now plan to carry this strategy into the future.
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