Cees ‘t Hart told The Financial Times that although there was a “high uncertainty” about 2021 the world’s third-largest brewer expected a “normal summer” after a gradual reopening in the coming months.
“If vaccinations come through, we’re pretty optimistic because we see people want to go out. In the 1920s, after Spanish Flu and [the] first world war, there was a dramatic surge and you saw things like jazz clubs and ballroom dancing. After Covid, there will be for sure some bright side in our kind of business,” he added.
He stressed that pubs and brewers that survived Covid-19 would do “very well”. He said: “We will appreciate what it is to be free to go out to pubs and see friends. It will not just be a few weeks or a month; it will last a lot longer.”
Last week Carlsberg forecast a 3-10% rise in underlying operating profits this year on the assumption that Europe has a difficult first quarter, that pubs and restaurants start reopening in the second quarter and that by the summer things are back to normal — and that China is normal throughout the year while the rest of Asia suffers more.
Hart conceded that if lockdowns were prolonged or there were problems with the rollout of vaccines in Europe then Carlsberg would be forced to revise its outlook. He added that at a time of lockdowns and slow pace of vaccinations in Europe “it is difficult to be too optimistic”.