Carlsberg clocks profit in Q3, looks at expanding capacity in India

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Carlsberg India, the Indian arm of Danish brewer Carlsberg Group, will expand its production capacity in India by setting up eight plants, one of which will be in Karnataka, its first in the state, said a top company executive on Friday.

“We are looking at expanding capacity by 500,000 hectolitres,” said Michael N, Jensen, managing director, Carlsberg India. “We have the right brands in the market and we are very focussed on our strategy.”

The expansion comes a decade after the beer maker started selling beer in India. Carlsberg India, which has been chasing growth over the past two years with brands such as Tuborg, posted its first profit in the October-December quarter last week on the back of rising demand.

Carlsberg India, in its annual earnings report, said it saw a 42% growth this year led by strong demand for its beer brand Tuborg Strong, which registered the highest growth among its products which also includes Tuborg Green, Carlsberg Elephant and Carlsberg Green.

Tuborg pipped SABMiller’s Haywards brand of beer to become the second largest beer brand in India behind United Breweries (UB) owned Kingfisher. UB has a 50% market share in market that sells 270 million case of beer a year. Tuborg now has a market share of 15%, growing by almost 50% during the year, the company added.

India’s beer market has traditionally been driven by strong beer, which accounts for 85% of all beer consumed.

Growth for Carlsberg came at a time when volumes for the first half of 2015 were down by a percent. However, in the December quarter, unusually warm winters in North and better urban demand helped boost sales.

Asian markets pulled up sales for the beer company, its global chief executive told reporters post its annual earnings last week.

We see the growth of the Asian division as an opportunity. We have a stellar growth in especially India,” Cees’t Hart told Reuters. “For us, it is important to see if this strong growth in India is sustainable, by which we are building up a very attractive business pretty quickly.”

Competitors are feeling the pressure.

“Carlsberg India has indeed grown,” said Shekhar Ramamurthy, managing director at United Breweries in an interview last week. “The brand that has grown on their side is Tuborg Strong…They are in the very heavy investment mode, but they are clearly making losses,” he added.

Jensen said the company will continue to grow at solid double digits. “While the market will grow by 5-6%, we will outgrow by at least five to six times the industry,” he added.