South Africa has experienced good economic growth over the last year, with gross domestic product growing at 5%, supported by strong consumer demand, notwithstanding firmer interest rates and inflationary pressures driven by higher food and fuel prices.
We recorded lager volume growth of 2.3%, and total soft drink volume growth of 7% supported by strong CSD volume growth of 6%. The double digit growth trend in other beverages continued, particularly in the water and energy drink categories. Performance was driven by buoyant fourth-quarter sales in both lager and soft drinks operations, with lager volumes up over 8% and soft drinks volumes up 33% over the prior year. Both operations benefited from the exceptionally hot and dry weather conditions experienced over the last quarter of the year. Soft drinks volumes were also boosted in the final quarter by replenishment of customer stocks following the carbon dioxide supply problems in the third quarter which severely limited CSD sales.
The premium and flavoured alcoholic beverage (FAB) categories continued to drive growth in lager volumes. Investment in marketing and pack innovation within these categories underpinned the 23% growth in premium lager volumes and the 9% increase in FABs for the year. The termination of the Amstel licence in early March 2007 did not impact sales volumes for the year. Strong performances were delivered by Castle Lite, Miller Genuine Draft and Peroni Nastro Azzurro brands. Mainstream beer volumes were marginally lower than the prior year despite renewed growth in Hansa and Castle Milk Stout.
This lager volume performance, supported by favourable premium mix benefits, delivered constant currency revenue growth of over 11% on the prior year. Raw material input costs increased as a result of higher commodity prices and the relatively weaker rand exchange rate, although favourable currency hedging positions, which were in place for much of the year, helped to mitigate these cost increases to below inflation in the year under review.
Distribution costs rose by some 20% in the current year principally resulting from the expansion of direct deliveries to customers, as we implemented our market penetration initiative. By the end of the year, the lager customer base had increased by 20% and the soft drink customer base by 8%.
Constant currency EBITA growth of 14% was achieved and the focus on fixed cost productivity, as well as minimising raw material input costs, assisted EBITA margin to improve by 50 basis points to 25.8%.
Our continuing innovation agenda led to a number of new product launches and pack renovations in the year. Both Castle Lite and Redd's packaging were enhanced, with a silver neck foil being added to the Castle Lite pack and all Redd's packs were redressed with contemporary pressure sensitive labels. The 375ml returnable bottle was replaced with a new 330ml returnable bottle. Our FAB portfolio was bolstered by the introduction of two new products. A new apple-flavoured premium brand, Sarita, was introduced and the Brutal Fruit product range was enhanced by a new lemon flavoured variant. Peroni Nastro Azzurro was launched in draught format in March 2007 following the success of this brand's single serve offering. Hansa Marzen Gold, a rich malt beer, was launched in early May 2007 and will build on our expanding portfolio of premium lagers. The 750ml returnable bottle for our mainstream brands will also be replaced by a new equivalent sized bottle over the next 18 months. This intensified market innovation leverages the installed manufacturing capacity as well as the investment in labeling capacity initiated last year.
Normalisation of the liquor trade, through formal government licensing of previously unlicensed outlets (or 'shebeens'), has proceeded slowly over the past year, notwithstanding the progress made in a number of provinces where enabling legislation to issue new liquor licences has been promulgated. Our taverner training programme, aimed at uplifting new taverners' business skills, has seen a further 5,000 taverners trained over the last year, bringing the total number trained to date to 12,400. This training programme is closely aligned with the market penetration initiative, to ensure improved commercial capabilities of new taverners.
The Department of Trade and Industry issued the final BEE (Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment) codes of good practice in early February 2007. Given that the BEE Act allows for the development of sector specific codes of good practice, the Liquor Industry Charter Steering Committee, in which we participate, will be meeting with the Department of Trade and Industry to discuss their respective expectations with the formulation of a sector code for the liquor industry.
As a result of a private arbitration award in favour of Heineken, and Heineken's subsequent decision to terminate the Amstel licence in March 2007, SA Beverages stopped manufacturing and distributing Amstel lager in South Africa. As announced in March 2007, the loss of Amstel has had no material impact on the earnings for the year under review. SA Beverages expects to mitigate the financial impact in the next financial year and going forward, through a number of initiatives including drawing upon SABMiller's global portfolio of brands and market experience, extending reach into direct distribution and broadening its premium offerings, but there will nevertheless still be a negative financial impact in the March 2008 financial year. In the financial year under review, on a pro forma basis, SA Beverages estimates that this would have amounted to some US$80 million at the EBITA level and expects the impact in the next financial year to be at a similar level.
Sales of Appletiser in South Africa continued to show strong growth both in South Africa and internationally, with volumes up 13%.
Distell's domestic sales volumes increased, with gains in the spirits and cider category, particularly in the premium sector, both contributing to improved sales mix. International volumes also grew, continuing the trends seen in prior years. Further improvements in operating efficiencies in production have also contributed to improved margins.
SABMiller is a 49% shareholder in the Tsogo Sun Group. The performance of Tsogo Sun continued to be assisted by a buoyant South African economy. The casino industry in general and Tsogo Sun Gaming in particular have shown real growth in revenue. The South African hotel industry has reported one of its best years on the back of a robust local economy and growth in international arrivals. Strong demand coupled with limited capacity growth to date, is underpinning significant real growth in average room rates.
The improved level of trading, assisted by good cost controls, resulted in a strong improvement in EBITA and margins.
|SA Beverages 2007||SA Beverages 2006||%|
|Group revenue1 (US$m)||4,274||4,204||2|
|EBITA margin (%)||25.8||25.3|
|- Other beverages||1,019||828||23|
Key focus areas
South Africa - Hotels and Gaming
|EBITA margin (%)||29.3||26.1|
1 Includes share of associates revenue
2 Share of associates revenue
3 Revenue per available room