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Carlsberg keeps 2018 outlook despite disappointing Q1 sales

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Danish brewer Carlsberg said on Tuesday sales fell 5 per cent in the first quarter, weighed by a negative currency impact and lower volumes in its key Russian market.

[COPENHAGEN] Danish brewer Carlsberg said on Tuesday sales fell 5 per cent in the first quarter, weighed by a negative currency impact and lower volumes in its key Russian market.

Carlsberg said it continued to lose market share in Russia, which accounts for around a fifth of sales, but still expected mid single-digit organic growth in operating profit this year.

First-quarter sales came in at 12.7 billion crowns (S$2.74 billion), below the 12.89 billion crowns forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts. Revenue was hit by a negative currency impact of 5 per cent, it said.

"Our volumes grew in all markets except for Russia," Carlsberg said in a statement. It did not disclose earnings figures.

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Russian initiatives to discourage drinking have included banning the sale of beer in so-called PET bottles, popular plastic bottles larger than 1.5 litres, which has hurt sales in Carlsberg's biggest market.

"The volume decline in Russia was impacted by the overall market decline of around 4-5 per cent and tough comparables for the first quarter of 2017, as our market share decline accelerated during the year because of increased promotional pressure in the PET segment," Carlsberg said.

Russia contributes to around a fifth of its sales.

Carlsberg said it continued its premiumisation strategy, with premium brands Tuborg, Carlsberg, Grimbergen and 1664 Blanc delivering "strong growth" across markets in the three months.

Still, sales fell in both Western and Eastern Europe, with Asia accounting for the only region with sales growth. Beer volumes fell in all three regions, it said.

The group's price mix, which indicates that the company sold more of its expensive beers, improved by one per cent, driven by Asia.

REUTERS