Carlsberg is looking to boost sales in the US after finalising its import and distribution business across the Atlantic.

Carlsberg's presence in the US lags behind that of the likes of InBev and Heineken but the Danish brewer believes it can boost its sales in country's booming import segment with its own local import and distribution business.

Carlsberg has watched its multinational brewing rivals benefit from the soaring demand for foreign beers in the US through a series of distribution deals and brand launches.

Last year, InBev signed an import and distribution deal with Anheuser-Busch, an agreement that will see A-B handle beers including Stella Artois, Beck's and Leffe. The successful US launch of Heineken Premium Light has also driven sales of the core Heineken brand in the last 12 months.

However, Carlsberg vice president, export and licence, Thomas Jakobsen said Carlsberg is now embarking on "phase two" of its US offensive after putting together a team of 16 sales people. Jakobsen said: "We have the distribution in place and the people we need and we are looking to position Carlsberg as a real import brand in the US."

Connecticut-based Carlsberg USA imports and distributes the namesake brand in the US, where it enjoys some recognition in cities like Los Angeles, New York and Chicago. Jakobsen declined to reveal US sales figures for the Carlsberg brand.

Carlsberg had been brewed and distributed in Canada and the US by Labatt Breweries. However, Carlsberg ended that agreement in 2004 after deciding to wrest control of the Carlsberg brand from the InBev-owned brewer.

Jakobsen denied that Carlsberg had been slow in tapping into the growth of the import beer segment in the US, insisting that the market had not been on the brewer's list of priorities in recent years.

"Whether we were slow is for someone else to say," Jakobsen told just-drinks today (19 March). "As a company, the US was not our number one market, we had focused on other markets around the world, like Eastern and Western Europe and Asia."

Nevertheless, Jakobsen said the time is right for Carlsberg to focus on building the profile of its namesake brand in the US.