By Duncan Miriri
NAIROBI, Jan 31 (Reuters) - Kenya’s East African Breweries (EABL) posted a 9% jump in pretax profit to 10.6 billion shillings ($105.21 million) for its first half to the end of December, it said on Friday.
The company, which is controlled by Britain’s Diageo , reported a 10% rise in net sales to 45.9 billion shillings. It also operates in neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania.
“We remain cautiously optimistic about our second half of the year, although unpredicted tax and regulatory changes and challenges in our operating environment continue to present potential risks,” CEO Andrew Cowan said.
In Kenya, which contributes 71% of its revenue, it registered an 8% rise in net sales driven by growth in mainstream spirits and scotch whisky.
The company said last July it was counting on a rise in demand for scotch whisky and its low-priced Senator Keg beer to counter the impact of an increase in taxes in Kenya.
Higher sales of Senator Keg, which is made from local ingredients and dispensed from large barrels into mugs in bars, helped to offset the impact of a 1% decline in sales of bottled beer such as Tusker, the company said.
Sales of Senator Keg were also boosted by the opening of a new brewery, dedicated to its production, in the western city of Kisumu.
Uganda, which accounts for 16% of total revenue, posted a 10% rise in sales, driven by premium beer such as Guinness.
EABL is the biggest alcoholic drinks company in Kenya. Its competitors include imported beer like Heineken and smaller, home-grown companies such as Keroche Breweries.
$1 = 100.7500 Kenyan shillings Editing by Jason Neely