Carlsberg returned to sales growth in Q3

Carlsberg increased its forecast for full-year earnings after enjoying organic volume growth of 2.4% during the third quarter.

The Danish brewer reported that growing off-trade sales more than offset the declining on-trade channel in the three months to September 30.

It now expects organic operating profit for 2020 to decline by just a “mid-single-percentage” figure, having previously forecast a “high-single-percentage decline”.

Carlsberg said that the strong performance in Q3 carried over into the beginning of Q4, with particularly strong momentum in Russia and China.

Its eponymous beer brand declined 2% in Q3, but Tuborg was up 4%, Kronenbourg 1664 grew 13%, Grimbergen grew 12% and Somersby cider was up 9%. There was also 29% growth for alcohol-free beers and 12% growth for its craft and specialty beer portfolio.

Carlsberg reported a strong performance in Norway and continued volume growth in Poland. Denmark was hit by the loss of CSD border trade, and volumes in Sweden were impacted by the closed Norwegian border.

High on-trade exposure caused a negative impact in Switzerland. There was strong off-trade growth in France and the UK, but total volumes were impacted by the decline in the on-trade.

Carlsberg hailed a strong rebound in China, with volume up 4%, plus strong volume growth in Laos and Vietnam, but difficult trading conditions in India, Nepal and Malaysia.

There was strong volume growth in Russia, supported by warm weather and improved market share, while it also performed well in Ukraine, Belarus and Azerbaijan.