When our company was founded in 1984 there were just over a dozen breweries operating in Canada. Today there are 1,123. Despite the tremendous increase in competitors, total national beer sales have been going in the opposite direction. In this massive and financially valuable beer category, most breweries are not growing. In this crowd, there is one standout: Waterloo Brewing.
We closed the year with $60.3 million in revenue (+12% versus the prior year) and EBITDA excluding one-time costs of $12.0 million (+19%). For the second consecutive year, we surpassed $100M in sales landing at an outstanding $118.7 million in gross revenue. Standing out further still as the only Canadian craft beer stock offering a dividend.
The Company’s growth engines are all delivering. LandShark® Lager, in its fourth full year since launch, grew to 30,000 hectolitres, becoming a formidable player in the premium beer segment. Our Waterloo craft division delivered resilient volume growth despite the number of craft breweries growing to over 300 in Ontario. Laker, the resolute pillar of our business, delivered +20% versus the previous year, growing to over 210,000 hectolitres. That kind of growth is simply remarkable for a mature brand in a declining category and testament to the consistent sales and marketing approach we’ve taken on the Laker brand over the last several years.
The final driver to our growth and profitability is having established ourselves as the co-pack partner of choice for high-growth brands. The significant contracts we have with several large brewers, numerous craft brewers, Carlsberg Canada for their wildly popular Somersby Cider and others generate not only revenue and profit on their own, but dramatically improve capacity utilization and overall profitability. For large beverage makers and brewers seeking to compete in craft and niche segments, the wide-ranging capabilities of our world-class facility position us as the solution of choice.
The choices we made for growth and profit are delivering strong results and we will remain focused on our owned brands and increasing our share of the beverage alcohol market in Ontario. To reinforce our local roots in our hometown of Kitchener-Waterloo and to accelerate the growth of our craft portfolio, last year we opened our stunning small-batch brewery, taphouse and expanded retail store. These invaluable assets have already helped us dramatically increase our local presence and have directly contributed to the success of our recently launched beer delivery service.
We started as a microbrewery, but our ambitions back then were anything but small. Today our dreams are greater than ever, and the reasons to believe in our continued success are many. We will continue to be the hardest-working brewery in Ontario, motivated to be a great employer, a helpful neighbour to our local community and a creator of great value for our owners. Thank you for all your support over the years and for all that’s yet to come.
George H. Croft
President and CEO