DENMARK – Carlsberg has reported full-year results “well above the pre-pandemic levels of 2019,” with sales surging 13.8% to DKK 66.63 billion ($10.26 billion approx.) for 2021.

The Danish brewer also saw volume growth of 9.3% mainly driven by higher demand in China and India.  

In the last quarter, revenue reached DKK 15.2 billion (U$2.34 billion), exceeding the DKK 14.7 billion figure estimated by analysts in a company poll, cited by Reuters. 

Revenue for 2021 grew by 17.9% in Carlsberg’s Western Europe region, which the company says “had a very volatile year”. 

 The first half was impacted by pandemic-related on-trade restrictions in most markets; while the brewer benefitted from the abandonment of restrictions in the second half. 

Beer volumes grew organically by 12.3% in Asia, mainly driven by China and India. The company’s other beverage volumes grew by 10.6%, driven by the performance of soft drinks and energy drinks in Cambodia. 

Meanwhile, Carlsberg Central & Eastern Europe unit delivered “solid results” with organic beer volume growth of 4.9% and organic volume growth in other beverages of 20.3%. 

“We’re very satisfied with the Group’s 2021 performance. Although our business was significantly impacted by Covid-19, we delivered strong top- and bottom-line growth and free cash flow,” said CEO Cees ’t Hart.  

Carlsberg braces for a tough 2022 

Moving into 2022, Carlsberg is not as optimistic that its performance will rival what it was able to deliver in 2021.  

The Danish brewer expects organic operating profit growth of 0-7% in 2022, compared with 12.5% last year. 

CEO Cees ’t Hart attributed the grim outlook to significantly higher input costs and continued impact from Covid-19.  

Costs per hectolitre rose by 10-12% last year, driven by higher commodity and transportation prices, he said, adding that the company aims to offset the increased costs by raising prices, though this could have “a negative impact on beer consumption”. 

New strategy to reach 3-5% revenue growth the next 5 years  

Earlier, Carlsberg set out a growth strategy that focuses on premium brands and so-called super-premium lines such as 1664 Blanc. 

The company also plans to double down on alcohol-free beer — which it said was one of the fastest-growing categories — and non-beer brands such as Somersby cider and Garage Hard Lemonade. 

Non-alcoholic beer accounts for 4 to 5 percent of Carlsberg’s sales and it expects to double that in five years, ‘t Hart said. 

During the earnings call, Carlsberg said it would propose a dividend of 24 crowns per share, or 3.4 billion crowns in total, up 9% year on year. 

The company has also launched a 1 billion crown share buyback programme running until April 22. 

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