Carlsberg has strong start with Asian sales boost

Carlsberg joined Heineken in reporting a strong start to the year as Asian revenue surged, helped by the acquisition of Cambrew, a Cambodian brewer.

Carlsberg has strong start with Asian sales boost

Carlsberg joined Heineken in reporting a strong start to the year as Asian revenue surged, helped by the acquisition of Cambrew, a Cambodian brewer.

Revenue in the first quarter rose 6.4% on an organic basis, reaching 13.9 billion kroner (€1.86bn), while analysts expected 13.5bn kroner (€1.81bn).

After having spent several years cutting costs, Carlsberg is now focusing on how to boost sales growth, and this quarter is a good first step.

Its international brands such as Carlsberg, Tuborg and 1664 Blanc performed especially well in China, chief executive, Cees Hart, said.

The figures are a balm for Mr Hart, who suffered a rebuke from shareholders last month when they protested about a bonus payment.

His challenge will be to continue accelerating sales growth as larger rival Anheuser-Busch InBev boosts marketing.

Its shares which trade in Copenhagen fell about 1% but they have risen around 25% since the start of the year, valuing the brewer at €17.5bn.

Positive currency movements and an acquisition in Cambodia also helped the world’s third-largest brewer, behind Anheuser Busch InBev and Heineken, grow Asian sales by 28% year-on-year in the first quarter ended March, it said.

“We had a good start to the year, with particularly strong volume growth in Asia and continued solid progress of our craft and speciality, and alcohol-free portfolios,” Mr Hart said.

Carlsberg has taken major cost-cutting measures since Hart took over in 2015, intended to help redress a decade of weakness in its key market, Russia.

Last year, it returned to sales growth for the first time in three years.

The brewer said its price mix, which indicates if the company sold more of its expensive beers, was positive across all regions, particularly in eastern Europe.

The brewer lost market share in Russia, where it owns the Baltika brand, as it increased prices at the end of last year and in the first three months of 2019 in an effort to increase profitability.

The company, which did not disclose earnings figures, said it still expected operating profit to grow by a mid-single-digit percentage in 2019, well below last year’s 11%.

- Bloomberg and Reuters

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