* Carlsberg Q1 sales up 27%
* Brewer has successfully passed rising costs onto consumers
* Buyer interest in Carlsberg's Russian business, price
COPENHAGEN, April 28 (Reuters) - Danish brewer Carlsberg
said on Thursday rising consumer prices had not
dented demand for beer, as it geared up for further price
increases in some markets later this year to make up for soaring
The message from Carlsberg echoes that of other large
European companies like Nestle and Danone
saying they had successfully managed to pass on higher costs to
consumers without harming sales.
The world's third-biggest brewer said sales rose 27% in the
first quarter, with the strongest growth in Western Europe
despite economic uncertainty from rising inflation.
"We've learned from previous crises that when consumers
can't afford to go on holiday or spend money on new cars and
fridges, they instead focus on more affordable luxury items such
as premium beer," Chief Executive Cees't Hart said.
"So far we've seen very little evidence of any consumer
impact from higher beer prices," he said.
The rise in sales in the first quarter was in part due to a
deflated comparison last year when coronavirus lockdowns closed
many restaurants and bars.
Carlsberg, the Western brewer most exposed to the Russian
market, joined rivals Anheuser-Busch InBev and Heineken
in seeking to withdraw from Russia after Moscow
invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
The brewer had seen interest in its Russian business, but it
was difficult to say what price it could achieve, Hart said.
"We're making good progress, but it may take quite a while,"
he said, without naming potential buyers.
Carlsberg last week said it expected the sale to result in a
writedown of about 9.5 billion Danish crowns.
"(Our calculations) brought us to a certain valuation in the
market. The question of course is whether we can get that
valuation. That is difficult to assess," Hart said.
The company holds a 27% share of the Russian market through
its ownership of the country's biggest brewer Baltika.
Carlsberg last year generated 10% of its total revenue and
6% of its operating profit in Russia, where it has eight
breweries and 8,400 employees.
Hart also said it had reopened its Ukrainian breweries in
Kyiv and Lviv, although they were not running at full capacity.
The breweries were closed following what the Kremlin calls
its "special military operation" to demilitarise Ukraine.
Carlsberg's sales in the January to March period totalled
14.9 billion Danish crowns ($2.10 billion), excluding its Russia
The company's shares have recovered slightly since it
announced it would exit the Russian market, but remain down
around 10% since the start of the invasion. They were trading
1.3% higher at 1022 GMT.
Carlsberg left its full-year guidance for operating profit
unchanged with a forecast at between minus 5% and plus 2%.
($1 = 7.0788 Danish crowns)
(Reporting by Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen
Editing by Barbara Lewis and Elaine Hardcastle)