6 Nov 2009

Lion Nathan earnings rise in NZ

4:54 pm on 6 November 2009

New Zealander's liking for premium beers has helped Australasian brewer and wine producer Lion Nathan increase its earnings in the face of the economic downturn.

Now owned by Japan's Kirin Holdings, the brewer's underlying profit rose 13% to $A313 million in the year to September compared with the previous year.

In New Zealand, earnings rose 5% to $NZ94.3 million, as sales of premium beers offset a fall in volumes.

Lion Nathan chief executive Rob Murray says volumes fell, partially because of a shift from people drinking at licensed premises to drinking at home.

Mr Murray says the company's wine business, which includes the Wither Hills winery in Marlborough, has had a volatile year.

He says the 2008 New Zealand vintage proved challenging for the company, but things are more promising this year.