The worlds brewers hold conflicting views on the potential of Chinas beer market

The world's brewers hold conflicting views on the potential of China's beer market

Carlsberg's CEO has said he expects to close more breweries in China, following yesterday's news that the group  has already closed eight over the last 12 months.

Speaking to analysts yesterday, following the firm's first-quarter trading update, Cees 't Hart said the closures, "with more to come" in the market, are part of the company's Funding the Journey cost-cutting programme. Carlsberg operates 37 breweries in China, including six joint ventures.

Management declined to specify how many more breweries would close, however, executive VP Chris Warmoth said Carlsberg was "most of the way through" its brewery closure programme in the country.

"We need to do some further work," he said. "We have some joint ventures and we need to work out the optimum way to source the volume we do have on the east coast. So we say 'more to come' but... the key message is we're most of the way through."

Overall, Warmoth said the company is "less positive" on Asia than it has been in the past. "We are expecting the Chinese market to continue to be soft for the full year," he said. "In some of the other economies, which are linked to China, we see a slowing down."

Earlier this month, Anheuser-Busch InBev flagged the potential of the Chinese market, as its CEO said the company was "poised for bright business" in the country. In a post first-quarter results call, Carlos Brito said Budweiser is the biggest-selling premium beer in China.

Explaining Carlsberg's position in the market, Warmoth said yesterday that the group's Tuborg brand is the market leader in the sub-premium category.