Carlsberg has recorded a decline of 6.8% in first quarter sales due to the global closure of bars and restaurants during the coronavirus lockdown.
In the three months to 31 March, Carlsberg witnessed a 7.4% decline in organic revenue with a 7.6% fall in total volume.
The Danish brewer posted net revenue of DKK 12.9 billion ($1.88 billion) compared to DKK 13.9 billion ($2 billion) the same time last year.
First quarter revenue for the company’s Asia business – which was responsible for Carlsberg’s recent strong performance – declined by 12% driven by an organic volume decline of 15.5%.
The Chinese market – the firm’s biggest market – was impacted the most with an organic volume decline by around 20%, as lockdowns started as early as January.
In the rest of Asia and in Western Europe, Carlsberg witnessed an impact in some markets in late February, however at the end of the quarter all markets were entering into some level of lockdown.
As a result, revenue in Western Europe declined by 6.9% with a 6% drop in volume. Carlsberg’s larger markets such as Switzerland, France and Denmark saw a mid- to high-single-digit beer volume decline due to large on-trade exposure.
Non-beer volumes dropped organically by 10% due the expected negative impact by the loss of the German/Danish soft drink border trade from 1 January.
Meanwhile, its Eastern Europe business saw very little impact from the virus in Q1 with revenue growth of 5.5%
The Carlsberg brand grew strongly in Russia, while overall volumes declined by 10%, mainly due to a weaker Chinese market and a decline in India and Denmark.
The company’s craft and specialty portfolio delivered volume growth of 1% with a 4% rise by 1664 Blanc driven by all three regions. In China, 1664 Blanc grew double-digit.
It’s Tuborg brand declined by 15%, mainly caused by China, India and the Turkish licence market.
On 2 April, the group suspended its outlook for 2020 due to the significantly increased uncertainty surrounding the impact of Covid-19 on its business performance.
Carlsberg CEO Cees ’t Hart said: “Our businesses in all markets are impacted to a greater or lesser extent. While we’re starting to see signs of recovery in our largest market, China, and initial signs of governments cautiously lifting restrictions in some Western European markets, other markets remain in lockdown. Nevertheless, social-distancing requirements will continue and will impact consumer behaviour. Consequently, volumes will decline further in Q2.
“Carlsberg remains in strong financial health. To mitigate the impact of weaker volumes, we’re reinforcing our cost focus and maintaining a strict focus on cash and liquidity, while ensuring that this will not compromise the long-term health of our brands and our organisation.”
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020
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