Carlsberg switches CEO at Baltika Breweries in Russia

Carlsberg switches CEO at Baltika Breweries in Russia

Carlsberg will transfer the head of its UK business, Isaac Sheps, to Russia as it seeks to restore confidence in its operations there.

From 1 December, Sheps will replace Anton Artemiev as CEO of Balitka Breweries and SVP of Carlsberg in Eastern Europe. Artemiev will continue at the business as a member of Baltika's supervisory board, Carlsberg said today (26 October).

The move follows a tough first-half trading period for Carlsberg in Eastern Europe. In August, the group reported that a weaker-than-expected performance in Russia had caused half-year profits to drop by 26%. Carlsberg's shares slid by 18% following the results statement, which also saw the company halve its full-year profits guidance.

"Anton Artemiev and his management team have developed Baltika into a clear market leader within the industry," said Carlsberg's CEO, Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen. "Despite challenging market conditions, Baltika is in a good position to profit from the exciting growth opportunities that Russia has to offer." 

Sheps has impressed at Carlsberg by turning round the group's UK business. Since his arrival there in 2008, Carlsberg's market share has risen from 13% to 15% in volume terms, while profits have tripled. 

Baltika commands a 40% volume share of Russia's beer market. Until this month, its nearest competitor was Anheuser-Busch InBev's Sun InBev, which has a volume share of around 17%. However, last week, SABMiller and Anadolu Efes announced plans to merge their Russian beer operations, which will propel the combined entity ahead of Sun InBev and could provide stiffer competition to Baltika.

A replacement for Sheps in the UK will be announced "as soon as possible", Carlsberg said. Until then, the brewer's SVP for Western Europe, Jesper Friis, will act as interim UK CEO.