Carlsberg used its Q1 statement to provide an update on its strategic review

Carlsberg used its Q1 statement to provide an update on its strategic review

A "solid start" for Carlsberg has seen the first quarter generate a 2% lift in sales in organic terms for the brewer.

In a trading update today, the company said its volumes in the three months to the end of March fell by 2%. In reported terms, currency fluctuations made their presence felt, with sales dipping by 3.4% year-on-year, totalling DKK13.01bn (US$1.99bn).

The organic sales growth was driven by Eastern Europe, where sales jumped by 20% (down by 2% in reported terms) as Carlsberg cycled "easy comparisons" in Russia from a year earlier. Net sales in Asia increased by 5% organically - down 1% in reported terms - but were down by 3% in Western Europe.

"In the seasonally-small first quarter, we delivered a solid start to the year," said CEO Cees 't Hart. "Applying our new value management approach, we are on our way to strike a better balance between market share, gross margin and earnings."

Looking to the full-year, Carlsberg said it expects operating profits to grow by a low single-digit percentage in 2016, while noting a slight reduction in the previously-forecast impact of ForEx, from DKK600m for the year to DKK550m.

In an update on its SAIL '22 strategy review, launched in March, Carlsberg said today that it had reduced its "white-collar headcount" by about 2,000 by the end of the first quarter. It has also "cut approximately 950 SKUs from the tail" by the end of March, closed eight breweries in China in the last 12 months and is looking to move a "significant amount" of back-office operations to an external service provider in India.

The brewer concluded its update with news that its executive VP for Asia, Chris Warmoth, will become executive VP for corporate strategy - a newly-created role - on 1 June. Meanwhile, new CFO Heine Dalsgaard will assume his position on the same date.

To read the company's official statement, click here.

For a look at Carlsberg's first-quarter performance on a regional basis, click here