• Q1 sales up by 2% in organic terms
  • Reported sales in three months to end of March down 5% to DKK12.7bn (US$2.05bn) on currency headwinds
  • Volumes flat
  • Western Europe sales drop 3%

Carlsberg Q1 2018 - results data

Carlsberg is investing in its namesake brand in the UK with new advertising, but has seen market share in the country drop

Carlsberg is investing in its namesake brand in the UK with new advertising, but has seen market share in the country drop

Carlsberg's increased focus on non-alcoholic beer paid off in the first quarter, as demand in developed markets helped drive a small sales gain despite weakness in Western Europe for its flagship lager.

Volumes for the Danish brewer's alcohol-free category were up 23% in Western Europe in the three months to the end of March, the company announced today. Along with strong growth for speciality and craft brands, the increase drove a 2% organic sales rise for Carlsberg in what is traditionally its smallest quarter of the year.

Reported sales were down 5% to DKK12.7bn (US$2.05bn), due to currency headwinds. Total volumes were flat, partly as a result of last year's divestment of German wholesaler Nordic Getränke.

Group CEO Cees 't Hart said the underlying performance underlined Carlsberg's ongoing restructuring efforts, which when announced in 2016 pledged to focus on building the company's non-alcoholic portfolio as well as higher-margin premium products.

The company has also overhauled its Carlsberg brand in markets including the UK in a bid to premiumise it in an increasingly-competitive consumer environment. However, today's results revealed a 2% volumes decline in Western Europe that Carlsberg partly blamed on share loss in the UK related to its namesake brand. Sales in Western Europe were down 3%.

Russia continued to hamper Carlsberg as volumes declines in the country led to a 3% sales drop in Eastern Europe. The company warned that its market share decline in Russia accelerated in Q1 because of the introduction of restrictions on PET bottles that has led to promotional pressure.

Other global markets performed better, with management praising broad-based growth in Asia that delivered a 16% sales increase.

To read Carlsberg's official Q1 results statement, click here.

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