Heineken profits up as sales fall

image captionHeineken is behind some of Europe's most popular beer brands

Dutch brewing company Heineken has reported a rise in profits for the last six months, despite falling beer sales.

Net profits for the first half of the year hit 621m euros (£510m; $788m), up 17% on the same period last year.

Cost cutting helped boost profits, which came despite a 2.3% decrease in beer sales.

The company blamed the economic environment and tax increases in Europe for the decline.

Emerging markets

The brewer's UK arm made a positive contribution to the rise in profits, largely due to higher prices and brewery closures.

The group shut breweries in Reading and Dunston, near Newcastle, which it took over as part of the deal to buy Scottish and Newcastle in 2008.

These measures helped drive "strong" earnings growth, the brewer said.

There was also strong growth in Africa, Asia and Latin America, Heineken said, while trading in Europe and North America remained "challenging".

Heineken makes some of the biggest selling beer brands in Europe, including Heineken, Amstel, Fosters and Strongbow.

The Heineken brand itself outperformed the rest of the company's beer brands, as well as the broader market, Heineken said.

The company's chairman and chief executive Jean-Francois van Boxmeer said Heineken's focus on developing markets meant it was "well placed for the future".

"Our expanded footprint in Latin America complements our strong positions in Africa and Asia where we continue to see excellent opportunities for future volume growth," he said.

Meanwhile, the company said it remained "cautious" over prospects for Europe and North America, with planned austerity measures expected to further hit demand.

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