Rising incomes buoy profits at Rwandan brewer Bralirwa

KIGALI Fri May 10, 2013 12:39pm EDT

KIGALI May 10 (Reuters) - Rwandan brewer Bralirwa reported a 30 percent rise in net profit for 2012 on Friday, citing rising demand from a growing number of people with middling or higher incomes in the fast-growing nation once devastated by genocide.

The company, 75 percent-owned by Heineken, said net profit was 19.03 billion Rwandan francs ($29.5 million) in 2012, up from 14.66 billion a year earlier. Revenue grew 18.5 percent, helped by rising volumes of beers and soft drinks sold.

The board recommended a dividend of 20 francs, 17.4 percent below the 2011 figure, reflecting the firm's demands for cash to fund an investment programme.

Despite an uncertain global outlook, Managing Director Jonathan Hall said at the results announcement in Kigali that prospects for sub-Saharan Africa remained positive and that he expected the Rwandan economy to continue to expand.

"We see a growth in middle income consumers, but we also see a very interesting change at the top end of the market," he said. "I've begun to see the development of bars and restaurants and nightclubs that cater for a slightly different market and the growth in that area has increased."

The Rwandan economy has recovered strongly from collapse as a result of the 1994 genocide. The government has forecast growth of 7.5 percent in 2013, after about 8 percent in 2012.

Rwanda has a programme to achieve a per capita gross domestic product of $1,240 by 2020, although government forecasts suggest it will miss a target of averaging 11.5 percent growth a year to help achieve that.

Bralirwa is Rwanda's oldest brewery with rights to produce brands such as Guinness and Amstel. It also produces branded soft drinks such as Coca-Cola.

($1=645 Rwandan francs) (Reporting by Jenny Clover; Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Mark Potter)

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