The brewer has a lot riding on Russia

The brewer has a lot riding on Russia

The negative impact Carlsberg has felt from Russia's ban on street kiosk beer sales should be over by the end of the year, the group's CEO has predicted. 

On an analysts' conference call, following the group's nine-month results today (13 November), Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen said the company does not expect any fresh regulations to be introduced, after the new rules, including a clampdown on marketing, came in at the start of 2013. “By the end of this year we see that the impact of kiosk closures should be behind us, so it should not have a negative impact from next year,” he said. 

Carlsberg, which has 38.7% market share in Russia, today reported that its Q3 beer volumes in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine, fell by 15%, while sales in the region slid 14% to DKK4.6bn. In 2012, Eastern Europe accounted for 39% of the group's operating profits and 37% of volumes. 

Asked about new figures showing a slowdown in economic growth in Russia, Rasmussen admitted: “The macro-economic outlook is not as positive as it was.”

But he added: “It (Russia) is still predicted to be a growing economy and that's always postive. Most expect real income growth per year and we don't see a significant change in consumption habits around beer, apart from what has taken the category down already. 

“We still believe at some point in time this category (in Russia) will get back to some growth. What percent, 2-5% or 3-5%,  I don't know, but as long as the category gets back to growth that will be a significant improvement and certainly for the total Carlsberg business." 

Last month, Anheuser-Busch InBev's CEO claimed it could take "years" before Russia's beer market returns to pre-2008 growth levels, but rejected the suggestion his company may exit the region.