Heineken defies lockdowns with frothy first quarter

Dutch brewing giant Heineken on Wednesday reported surging profit in the first quarter borne up by markets outside Europe, where national coronavirus lockdowns remain in force.

The bottom line at the world’s number two brewer added 78.7 percent year-on-year to reach 168 million euros ($202 million) in January-March, the company said.

Remaining “significantly impacted” by the pandemic, the net profit was just over half the 299 million euros booked in 2019, the last unaffected period.

But looking ahead executives “expect market conditions to gradually improve into the second part of the year, depending on the roll-out of vaccines,” Heineken added.

The company has already announced that it will slash 8,000 jobs — around 10 percent of its global workforce — after bar closures in many countries helped drive it into a net loss in 2020.

Heineken said the volume of beer it had delivered worldwide remained roughly stable, with “strong growth in the Africa, Middle East & Eastern Europe and Asia Pacific regions” offsetting a sharp decline in Europe.

It did not publish revenue data for the first quarter. © Agence France-Presse

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