Kenya: EABL Reaps Big as Digital Sales Trigger Drinking Spree

28 January 2022

Nairobi — The digital shift brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to drive alcohol sales for EABL, playing a major role in the firm's earnings in the first half of the year.

The stay at home directives and curfews put in place at the onset of the pandemic to curb the spread of the virus saw a surge in online alcohol retailers such as chupachap, Dial a Drink among others while delivery platforms such as Jumia and UberEats also delivered the commodity, as more consumers opted to enjoy their drinks at the comfort of their homes.

Further, local wines and spirits shops also started home deliveries.

Speaking during the East African Breweries (EABL) Half Year 2021 financial results media briefing on Friday, EABL Managing Director Jane Karuku noted that many consumers are still buying their products online even with the reopening of bars.

"We have noted that the consumer is now buying different with more use of digital platforms to buy goods, and this has continued to drive sales," Karuku said.

Even so, she noted that on trade sales (inside restaurants, bars) led to improved sales of products such as beer and spirits with the reopening of bars in the second quarter of 2021.

The EABL chief attributed the rise in online sale to a trend by consumers who appeared to have been accustomed to pre-pandemic consumption habits.

"Consumers are still anxious due to the health crisis brought about by Covid-19, with people preferring to consume alcohol in more smaller intimate groups," she said.

Even so she noted that the anxiety is easing and high temporal occasions starting to show up.

EABL reported a 131 per cent jump in net profits for the first half of 2021 hitting a five year high of Sh8.7 billion compared to Sh3.79 billion in the same period in 2020.

"We have emerged stronger from the Covid-19 pandemic and we've had an exceptional growth in all our margins and markets, this is the greatest half so far in our business," said Karuku.

Net sales grew 23 per cent to Sh54.9billion driven by investment behind brands and channel innovation in response to consumer behavior shifts.

At country level, Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania revenues grew by 27, 28 and 15 per cent respectively compared to the same period last year, as Covid-19 restrictions were lifted.

EABL Group Chief Financial Officer, Risper Genga attributed the performance to consistent execution of strategy and continued investment in strong brands.

Looking into the future, Karuku added: "The trading environment remains uncertain with the lingering socio-economic impact of the pandemic, excise tax volatility, and the upcoming electioneering period in Kenya.

However, we are cautiously optimistic that the regional economies will continue on the recovery path, sustaining growth momentum across East Africa."

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