Carlsberg CEO Cees ‘t Hart can say goodbye on a high, as sales rose 11.2 % in the first half of the financial year, despite lower volumes in Europe. Consumers remain willing to pay substantially more for premium beers in particular.
“The strategic health of our business continues to improve, as evidenced by the growth of our international premium brands and continued growth in key markets in Asia”, the CEO beamed. ‘t Hart will be handing over the torch to reorganisation expert Jacob Aarup-Andersen in September after eight years in charge.
In Asia, volumes rose 4.8 %, compared with a decline of 2.1 % in Western Europe and one of 1.9 % in Central & Eastern Europe. The company did not specify whether that decline was due to bad weather or the price increases. What is clear, however, is that all regions nevertheless saw solid revenue growth, such as + 9.2 % in Western Europe and + 11.7 % in Asia. Revenue per hectolitre was up 10 %.
Carlsberg felt able to raise its full-year profit expectations as in the first half of the year, operating profit rose 5.2 % to 6.3 billion kroner (850 million euros). “We were able to maintain the gross profit we needed to further develop our business and to further invest in our brands”, the CEO told Bloomberg TV about the price increases.
Carlsberg’s resilience is in stark contrast to rival Heineken, which had to lower its profit forecast as some customers switch to cheaper beer. Meanwhile, uncertainty remains rife in Russia, where the government nationalised Carsberg’s local operations last month. Since then, ‘t Hart claims he hasn’t heard from management there.