SABMiller, the international brewer, grew UK lager volumes by 6% in the six months to 30 September, despite the difficult comparatives with the 2010 football World Cup. The company saw group revenue rise 10% to US$15,688m, with ebita also up 10% to US$2,701m. Adjusted profit before tax increased 13% to US$2,457m, with adjusted earnings up 11% to US$1,633m. SABMiller said: “In the United Kingdom, lager volumes grew 6% and we continued to gain share in a premium segment which declined following the impact of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in the prior year. Peroni Nastro Azzurro continued its solid growth performance, supported by continued draught expansion.” The UK outperformed the rest of Europe, where volumes increased by a fraction of one percent from 25,633 hl to 25,645 hl. Ebita in Europe increased 4% to US$570m, “primarily due to the weakening of the US dollar against central and eastern European currencies compared with the prior year”. “Ebita on an organic, constant currency basis was down 6% with a margin decline of 60 bps as profitability was negatively impacted by increased raw material costs, and negative sales mix partly mitigated by operational cost efficiencies led by our regional manufacturing project and strong profit growth in our medium size markets, particularly the United Kingdom and Hungary.” The company said: “Lager volumes in Europe were level with the prior year as beer markets were affected by competitor price reductions and increased investment and promotion in the economy segment, exacerbated by reduced consumer confidence and expenditure in recent months. Organic, constant currency revenue per hl was in line with the prior year with moderate price increases taken where possible, and tactical discounting applied where required, in response to competitor net price reductions." Across the world organic volumes were up 3%, led by “robust” growth in Latin America, Africa and Asia. Graham Mackay, SABMiller chief executive, said: “Top and bottom line growth has been strong in most of our developing market businesses, propelled by our continued investment in brands, sales and marketing capability and production capacity. “Market conditions have remained challenging in the USA and much of Europe and increases in input costs have continued, as expected. “We expect trading conditions experienced in the first half to continue through the remainder of the year. Economic and market environments in the USA and Europe are expected to remain difficult with generally favourable conditions elsewhere, particularly in Latin America and Africa.” He said price increases will be “taken selectively during the second half, taking into account the competitive environment and our strategy to achieve growth through affordability in some markets”. “Compared with the first half of the current financial year, raw material input costs are expected to increase at a slightly faster rate in the second half and as we enter the following year; we continue to expect increases for the full year to be in the low single digits range. Increased investment to support our brand portfolios, sales capabilities and IT will continue, balanced by initiatives to reduce costs and increase efficiency.”