Carlsberg has insisted the time is right to restructure its Finnish operations despite the company strengthening its hold on the local market during the first of the year.

The Danish brewer said today (16 August) that 140 jobs would be lost at its Sinebrychoff subsidiary after it decided to centralise a number of functions at one of its breweries in Finland.

Bottling and warehousing facilities will centre on Sinebrychoff's Kerava brewery, although brewing will continue at its Pori site.

Carlsberg also plans to spend DKK140m (US$24m) on installing a PET line at Sinebrychoff's Kerava site to boost soft drinks production. Nevertheless, around 12% of the company's 1100-strong workforce is set to be axed.

A Carlsberg spokesman said the moves were "timely" despite Sinebrychoff gaining market share during the first six months of the year. Sinebrychoff is Finland's largest beer and soft drinks producer.

"The company is not in a crisis, not at all, it's the complete opposite," he told just-drinks. "But we need to ensure a good position for the future and it's easier to make changes when you're doing well."

Carlsberg said the restructuring would result in annual cost-savings of DKK90m from 2008.

Price competition has hit beer sales in Finland in recent months. Sinebrychoff's nearest rival, Scottish & Newcastle's Hartwall, saw branded beer volumes dip 1.8% during the first half of the year.

The Carlsberg spokesman declined to reveal Sinebrychoff's sales figures but said the company was "growing" and remained "the clear market leader" in Finland.

Sinebrychoff is looking to grow sales outside Finland and in April struck a deal with Foster's Group that will see the Australian drinks giant produce and sell the company's energy drink brand Battery in Australia.