Heineken hit with £500m write-down as bar and pub closures drag down sales

Brewing giant Heineken has slashed the value of its assets by 550 million euros (£500 million) after the mass closure of bars and pubs dragged it to a loss in the first half of the year.

The Dutch brewer said that it expects to have posted a net loss of 300 million euros (£272.7 million) in the second quarter of 2020 after being hit by the write-down.

The Amstel and Birra Moretti owner said sales plunged after global lockdowns heavily dented its on-trade business, which covers bar, pub and restaurant sales.

Net revenues for the half-year tumbled by 16.4% after it sold significantly lower volumes.

It said the impact of the coronavirus crisis deepened in the second quarter of 2020, with revenues reaching a “low point” in April.

However, it said it saw sales volumes “gradually recover” in June as lockdowns were lifted across the world.

Beer volumes were particularly impacted in the Americas, Africa, Middle East, and Eastern Europe, it said.

Its European arm saw a “high single-digit decline” in volumes, with the company hailing the performance of its eponymous Heineken brand.

The brand delivered “double-digit growth” over the past six months in a raft of markets, including the UK.

In a statement, the company added: “Heineken has entered the crisis with great brands, and a dedicated and talented workforce.

“The company has a strong balance sheet as well as undrawn committed credit facilities.”

William Ryder, equity analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “People have been enjoying a pint since the dawn of agriculture, and they’re not going to stop any time soon.

“This summer has been painful for Heineken, and the balance sheet may force some hard decisions in the future, but in the long run, we think they’ll do just fine.

“The brands are still strong and, though it may take some time, once the pubs get back into full swing, profits should pick back up.”

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