Baltic Beverages Holding, the brewing venture between Carlsberg and Scottish & Newcastle, has seen the integration of its Russian operations hit volumes in the country during the first quarter of 2006.

BBH today (10 May) revealed that beer volumes in Russia had dipped 1% in the first three months of the year as the merger of its four breweries in the country hampered distribution.  The company is in the middle of merging the operations of Baltika with fellow Russian brewers Pikra, Vena and Yarpivo.

The volume decline hit BBH's market share in Russia, which dipped to just under 35%. However, the company, Russia's market leader, said it had a series of product launches in the pipeline to win back sales.

BBH enjoyed more buoyant performances in the Ukraine, the Baltic states and Kazakhstan. Volumes in the Ukraine rose 12% and were up over 5% in the Baltic region. In Kazakhstan, where BBH is pallning to doubkle its capacity this year, beer volumes rose 36%.

In all, the brewer saw first-quarter EBITDA rise 11.3% to EUR77m (US$98.5m), while net sales rose 15% to EUR342m.

For the final quarter of last year, the company posted a rise in sales of EUR392m with EBITDA up by 40.4% at EUR100m. For the full year, sales rose by 21% year-on-year, coming in at EUR1.76bn (US$2.089bn). EBITDA for the year was up by 24.7% on the year before, at EUR484m for the group.