Carlsberg has moved to restructure its operations in south-east Europe in a bid to drive efficiency and further boost sales in the region.

The Danish brewing giant said today (6 February) that it has set up Carlsberg South East Europe, a unit charged with generating best practice in the areas of production, procurement and logistics in three countries - Serbia, Croatia and Bulgaria.

The business will be based in the Serbian capital of Belgrade and will be run by Isaac Sheps. He will add the positions of CEO of Carlsberg South East Europe and CEO of Carlsberg Croatia to his role as chief executive of Carlsberg Serbia.

"The businesses are all doing well but there is room for further improvement in sharing good practice and good competencies," a Carlsberg spokesman said from Copenhagen.

The spokesman said Carlsberg's local teams would continue to handle the brewer's commercial activities in each market.

"We've seen that a central HQ can take care of back-stage functions but local people know how to treat their customers. We always let people facing the customers make their own decisions."

Carlsberg owns an 80% stake in each of its businesses in Bulgaria, Serbia and Croatia. Denmark's Industrialization Fund for Developing Countries, a body that helps Danish firms to develop in emerging markets, owns the remaining 20% stake.

Carlsberg is the second-largest brewer in Serbia and next year plans to spend EUR20m (US$26.4m) on expansion at its brewery in Celarevo, 120km north-west of Belgrade.

Carlsberg controls 19% of Serbia's beer market, where total market sales last year hit 1.1m hectolitres, up from 570,000hl a year earlier.

The brewer controls around 13% of the Croatian beer market. It owns an 80% stake in its local arm, Carlsberg Croatia, based in the town of Koprivnica.