Carlsberg warns of 'challenging' 2009

Carlsberg has posted some bullish results – suggesting it may have got the better part of the bargain when it divided up the Scottish & Newcastle business with Heineken.

The Danish brewer acquired Russia’s biggest brewer, Baltic Beverage Holdings, in the deal and has more than trebled net profit to Dkr124m in its fourth quarter, on sales up by more than a third.

In the UK, Carlsberg has been hit by a decline in on-trade sales. The smoking ban and general economic conditions have been blamed, but the brewer has also been affected by the termination of its supply contract with Punch Taverns.

The company said its restructuring programme in the UK would help it achieve efficiencies. The Tetley’s brewery in Leeds is closing as Carlsberg consolidates its beer production.

Chief executive Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen sounded a cautious note. “A global economic recession is now a reality,” he said. “Consequently, our focus in 2009 will be on increasing cash flow and protecting earnings, cost control, significantly reducing capital expenditure, and accelerating debt repayment.

“After a solid performance in 2008 Carlsberg is well prepared for a challenging 2009, ready to take all necessary actions to protect our business as much as possible.”