Heineken Ireland says it increased its market share from 19.4% in 2004 to 20.5% in 2005. This marks the first time the company has broken through the 20% market share barrier. The company's turnover for the year rose by 4.5% to €325m, it also confirmed.

Heineken says the Irish beer market is now worth €3 billion and compared to previous years, the market downturn appears to be levelling off with a 0.7% decrease recorded for the year. Heineken says the on-trade market experienced a decline of 3.7% with the off-trade segment growing by 11%.

The company says that the on-trade now commands a 77% share of the total beer market with the off-trade increasing its share to 23%. Within the beer market, lager volumes grew by 3.5% last year and now hold a 55% share of the total beer market. Stout experienced a decline of 5% and now has a 38% share of the Irish beer market.

Heineken Lager saw a full share point increase in on-trade sales and continued to widen the gap with its nearest lager competitor in the Irish marketplace. Murphy's Irish Stout also experienced a slight market share increase in a declining stout market last year. On the export front, Murphy's continues to be the world's second largest stout brand and is exported to over 70 countries.

Coor's Light saw its total sales jump by 27% in 2005 and is now ranked as the fifth biggest lager brand here. It is the leading bottled beer in Dublin and the second biggest on trade bottled beer brand here. Draught sales of the beer were up 53% from 2004 and this double digit growth is expected to continue in 2006.

Amstel lager marginally increased its market share last year as it continues with the rollout of draught in the Dublin and Leinster areas. Heineken Ireland also says it continued to make inroads into the niche speciality sector last year with new brands from Italy and Belgium.

Meanwhile, Heineken Ireland's Dutch parent reported an 18.5% rise in net profits for 2005 to €761m and announced a plan that would cut costs by €200m a year by 2008. The company predicted that net profit growth in 2006 would not exceed the 'mid-single digit' mark.