Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd (Carlsberg Malaysia) has enjoyed a solid start in 2022, with its mainstream brands Carlsberg Danish Pilsner and Carlsberg Smooth Draught returning to growth this year after being affected by the pandemic, according to managing director Stefano Clini.
Clini points out that the Carlsberg Malaysia group recorded a 39% year-on-year growth in its premium category comprising 1664 Blanc, Asahi Super Dry, Somersby and Connor’s Stout Porter in the first quarter ended March 31 (1Q22).
“It is our plan to continue accelerating growth momentum with new product and packaging innovations,” he tells StarBizWeek.
Clini notes that in Malaysia, leading cider brand Somersby had launched new variant – Somersby Passion Fruit and Orange Cider in March whilst the fastest growing stout brand Connor’s Stout Porter launched a new sleek glassware in May to elevate its drinking experience from can-packaging, which was also launched in April last year
He adds that in 2022, Carlsberg Malaysia has increased marketing investments on Carlsberg brands to drive growth especially during the peak season during Chinese New Year with integrated campaigns that boost take-home consumption as well as drive footfall to on-trade outlets when dining-out and family reunions were allowed this year.
Meanwhile, the Carlsberg brand is celebrating its 175th birthday this year.
“We have exciting consumer promotions and brand-building programmes in the pipeline to solidify its Probably The Best Beer positioning, with the Carlsberg x Liverpool 30th Anniversary partnership celebration being one of the most exciting ones rewarding our consumers in Malaysia and Singapore,” says Clini.
Meanwhile, in February 2022, Clini had said the group has set aside capital expenditure (capex) of RM110mil to modernise its production facilities, which is expected to be completed by end-2022.
Clini notes that the project is a massive upgrade and the biggest investment of the Carlsberg Malaysia group in 30 years, which would improve its filling capacity and enable greater flexibility in packaging options, higher automation, more conducive working environment as well as greater sustainability performance in energy, water and waste management.
“This state-of-the-art filling is one of the most advanced glass lines that Krones AG, a German machine manufacturer has ever installed in this region. We are confident that this upgrade will cater to our packaging complexity and helps to deliver our environmental targets for lower carbon and water consumption.
“It is also equipped with automation capabilities that are able to enhance packaging integrity whilst its enclosed cleanroom can further strengthen our packaging handling hygiene to the highest standard,” he says.
Clini also points out that 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the first Carlsberg beer locally produced in Malaysia.
Carlsberg Malaysia is the first brewery set outside Denmark.
“Malaysia is an important market to the Carlsberg Group and we are committed to continue investing in this country, its economy and communities,” he says.
Regarding the outlook for 2022, Clini says Carlsberg Malaysia group remains cautious as it is mindful of the escalating commodity prices, which has been further exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, adding further costs pressure and uncertainties to the landscape.
“Also, we will start seeing the impact of prosperity tax in the remaining quarters. Preparing for the headwinds ahead, we will remain focused on our SAIL’22 strategy with premiumisation and innovation continuing to deliver growth in top and bottom-line. We will also intensify our cost control management whilst continuing to reinvest in our brands to fuel growth,” he explains.
Clini points out that guided by its purpose of “Brewing for a Better Today and Tomorrow”, Carlsberg Malaysia group has always been committed to conducting its business responsibly and sustainably; and delivering sustainable value for shareholders and society.
He adds that with sustainability well-integrated in its value chains, the group takes pride and conscious efforts in developing sustainable products for consumers, delivering sustainable organisation for its employees and communities and elevating its sustainability priorities for a more inclusive environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance.
“We pledged our support for the United Nations Race to Zero campaign and are set to inspire consumers to adopt more sustainable behaviour,” he notes.
Clini adds that in Malaysia, the group as a corporate friend of Climate Governance Malaysia and a participant of the United Nations Global Compact Network Malaysia and Brunei, has its sustainability programme aligned with the principles of human rights, labour, the environment and anti-corruption as well as the 17 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
“In our efforts to deliver operations, commercial and social sustainability priorities, tackling global challenges such as climate change, we empower our employees and collaborate with the communities around us while committing to strong governance,” he says.
Clini points out that Carlsberg Malaysia remains as a counter of note within FTSE Russell’s FTSE4GOOD Bursa Malaysia Index and achieved a Morgan Stanley Capital International ESG ratings of AA.
The brewer has published its first Integrated Annual Report for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2021 that provides shareholders detailed insights of the brewer’s allocation of capitals in delivering value creation and disclosure on the material matters around its ESG priorities.
Regarding its alcohol-free category, Clini said the group’s Singapore operations launched Carlsberg Danish Alcohol-Free Pilsner and Wheat in 2020 whilst here in Malaysia, it launched Somersby Apple 0.0, a non-alcoholic sparkling fruit drink in May.
“This is in line with our commitment to promote responsible drinking and offer a growing range of alcohol-free brews to our customers and consumers in every country where we operate in,” he says.
“This category is positioned as a positive choice and alternate to regular beer or cider. In the world of pandemic-recovery, we see swift in consumption patterns and increasing trends in consumer seeking for premium and more beverage options that cater to their lifestyle or well-being, which can be uniquely different from pre-pandemic times,” adds Clini.