Carlsberg Group has announced its president and chief executive Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen is retiring and will be replaced by Cees ‘t Hart, currently chief executive of the Dutch dairy company Royal FrieslandCampina.

Dutchman ‘t Hart, who will start work on 15 June, is the first non-Dane to head Carlsberg in its history.

The announcement comes as the brewer announced its financial results for the year to 31 December, in which it reported beer volumes down 3%, fuelled by performance in Eastern Europe.

The group reported organic net revenue growth of 2% to DKK64.5bn, with 1% organic operating profit growth driven by a strong performance in Western Europe and Asia. Adjusted net profit fell 5% to DKK5.4m.

The group said its market share increased in the majority of markets in Western Europe.

Carlsberg’s international premium portfolio continued togrow: Tuborg (+24%), Somersby (+43%), Kronenbourg 1664 (+9%) and Grimbergen (+27%). The Carlsberg brand grew 1% in its premium markets.

For 2015, the group expects operating profit to grow organically by mid- to high-single-digit percentages.

Commenting on the results, Rasmussen said: “In 2014, we had clear priorities and focus on execution, enabling us to deliver strong organic performance in Western Europe and Asia which more than offset the market challenges in Eastern Europe. For 2015, we’ll continue to support and invest in our brands and markets to capture the long-term opportunities in our regions, but in response to the current situation, we’ve built a strong operating plan, which includes changes to our business model, with the aim to achieve further efficiency improvements faster. These changes will enable us to mitigate the significant negative earnings impact arising from the rouble weakness and Eastern European market challenges, as well as improve cash flow and return on invested capital.“

On his new role, t’Hart said: “I am very pleased to be taking on the leadership of the Carlsberg Group. It is a company with a distinguished heritage, a strong portfolio of local and international brands and is the leading brewer in the majority of its markets. It will be my pleasure to lead it and propose together with the leadership team the future strategy for sustainable and profitable growth.”

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