Baltika Breweries, the Russian subsidiary of Carlsberg, increased its Russian beer market share to 38.3% by the end of 2008, despite the market remaining relatively flat.

Baltika, which is controlled by Carlsberg-owned Baltic Beverages Holding, saw its market share rise from 37.6% in 2007.

Carlsberg said that the group outperformed the market in the fourth quarter of 2008, achieving flat volumes despite a drop in market volume of around 5.4%.

Carlsberg said both pricing and mix contributed "positively" to the performance in all regions, with particular growth for the Tuborg brand. 

"Premiumisation in the total beer market in Russia has taken place in each and every quarter of 2008 compared to 2007," Carlsberg said.

Baltika's sales revenue for the quarter increased by 11.8% to RUB19.64bn (US$545.9m), and EBIT grew by 27.3% to RUB4.02bn.

Net profit reached RUB15.51bn, an increase of 11.1%, the brewer said.

Trevor Stirling, beverage analyst at Sanford Bernstein, said the Russian macro environment has become "increasingly challenging" over the past months and every revision of forecasts delivers a "more sombre outlook".

However, he said Baltika had continued its "slow but steady share gains, as it maintained its leading position in the fast-growing local premium segment and continued to take share in the even faster-growing licensed segment".

"Within the beer category, we expect Baltika to continue to gain market share and therefore decline at a slower rate than competitors," Stirling added.