Carlsberg Group, headquartered in the famous Carlsberg Vej street in Copenhagen, Denmark, will next year mark 170 years since it produced the first bottle of “probably the best” lager. During all this time, from a small brewery to a multinational company with over 40,000 employees, the staff members have remained committed to maintaining existing standards and advancing new standards in the production of beer, but also in the corporate social responsibility.
Carlsberg Group employs more than 40,000 people in over 150 countries in the world and sells more than 115 million bottles of beer every day, and next year marks 170 years since it produced the first bottles of the famous lager. On which principles and standards do such a great system function?
– At first, glance, when you read all those numbers, it seems that Carlsberg is just one of many leading international companies with the ambition to grow and conquer new markets. However, it is less well known to the general public that a completely different story hides behind the operations of this brewing “giant”.
And that is that the largest shareholder in this company for more than a hundred years, according to the wishes of its founder, Jacob C. Jacobsen, is the Carlsberg Foundation, headquartered in Copenhagen, which deals in investments in science and education. J.C. Jacobsen was a passionate brewer with a vision to create the perfect beer, but also to contribute through his work to the betterment of the society in which he lived. That vision is woven into the DNA of our company even today.
On the one hand, it is reflected in the fact that with all our efforts in the field of brewing we strive to make a better quality product and we are constantly working on its improvement. On the other hand, a significant part of the profits generated by Carlsberg on the global level of the foundation goes to the development of science and education, and thus we help the development of the society in which we live and operate.
I can say that these are the two basic principles underlying our work, while a set of standards related to concrete operations, primarily in the field of responsible communication, business ethics, investment and the community, respect for human and labour rights, enables us to live the same in our organisation on all markets and with tens of thousands of employees.
We are proud that, unlike many companies that build their vision over time, Carlsberg has had its vision since the emergence of the company and has been nurturing it for 170 years.
To what extent can the standards and procedures of the Danish Head office be transferred and used in the current business environment in Serbia?
– The standards and procedures that are closely related to the internal functioning of the organisation are in most cases fully implemented. In a way they also define the culture of the company itself, so that is very similar in all Carlsberg companies, whether in China, Russia, Western European countries or in Serbia.
However, that part of the business that directly or indirectly involves external stakeholders requires harmonisation with local legislation, and sometimes also the culture of the nations, and it adapts according to the needs of individual companies.
In your opinion, what would contribute to the improvement of the brewing industry in Serbia, and which would also benefit the state and customers and the industry itself?
– Regular dialogue with the government on legislative issues, primarily tax issues that have a significant impact on the operations of brewing companies in Serbia, is of utmost importance to the stability of the entire industry. We will always fulfil our obligations towards the state, and we are certainly aware of the economic situation and the measures that are sometimes inevitable, but if we were notified on time or, better yet, actively participated in the discussion when implementing the same, we believe that in many cases the outcome would be more favourable both for the state and for us, and ultimately also for the consumers.
We are sure that nobody has the goal of the industry collapsing because that would – both indirectly and directly – impact on the employment of a large number of people and, of course, the influx of money into the budget. You need to find such a measure in determining the levies for manufacturers in order for our market to continue to remain attractive for further investment because that is the only guarantee for the long-term success of the industry and the Serbian economy in general.
Carlsberg is known for its constant innovation in the production, promotion and marketing of its many brands. Which brand has the most fans in Serbia?
– That is certainly LAV beer. LAV is the largest brand in our portfolio and one of the most popular beer brands in Serbia. It is true that Carlsberg is also known for its innovative approach when it comes to different tastes, but also modes of communication and promotion. World trends in brewing are also increasingly present in our country and monitoring them is a necessity for survival.
The latest example of a brewing trend is craft beers and the various flavours they offer. Craft brewing is expanding incredibly worldwide, but also in our country, albeit not to the same extent, people increasingly want to try these “special” types of beers. In this regard, we have developed a portfolio of the most diverse brands that offer consumers black wheat beer, sunshine bright beer, as well as some craft brands.
We are proud that, unlike many companies that build their vision over time, Carlsberg has had its vision since the emergence of the company and has been nurturing it for 170 years
How satisfied are you with the professional qualifications of newly employed workers and how does the internal training system function?
– The best proof that Serbia has quality staff who are absolutely qualified to work in the global headquarters of international companies are some of our colleagues who today hold very important positions at our HQ in Copenhagen, or in the seats of individual functions across Europe. I think that high-quality manpower certainly exists in Serbia, but I would nevertheless add that, in addition to expertise, the profile of a person who comes into the company and their ability to fit into the company’s culture is as important a parameter in the selection of a new member of the team.
When it comes to internal training at Carlsberg, what has been in focus for years, especially since the organisation has been growing rapidly and becoming more complex, is training connected to the broader considering of business, which is essential in order for the decisions we take at the sectoral level to be the best for the business as a whole. All decision-makers at any level must know the financial implications, the impact on sales, but also on the external stakeholders, with every business move. In this sense, internal training helps significantly.
The operations of Carlsberg Group are dedicated to providing a positive contribution to society and the environment through CSR activities, and in Serbia also through the Carlsberg and Dunđerski Foundation. How much do these activities differ in Denmark and Serbia; in this sense, what has marked the previous period and what are you announcing for the coming months?
– Investing in the betterment of the community has been part of the global vision of the company since its inception. In Denmark, the Carlsberg Foundation leads social responsibility activities, while in Serbia we work through the Carlsberg and Dunđerski Foundation. Apart from the volume of projects, which is certainly smaller in our country, the areas of operation of both foundations are largely the same.
Unlike the foundation in Denmark, whose focus is on the development of science and education, in Serbia we also support the preservation of cultural heritage, environmental initiatives, responsible alcohol consumption, the local community of Bačka Palanka (primarily Čelarevo, where our brewery is located), but also current social issues in the society.
In 2016, we signed a three-year cooperation agreement with the Faculty of Economics, Law and Technology in Novi Sad, and rewarded the best students of this faculty with annual scholarships.
We assisted sporting and cultural activities in Čelarevo, as well as educational institutions, and by the end of the year, we will implement, together with the Municipality of Bačka Palanka, a project of completely arranging the town square and parks. Budgets are a measurable element that is most often mentioned when giving donations, but also the benefit that you leave for generations to come, and which in the first instance are often intangible, though that testifying to what you have truly done for the community.
Although every year it seems that there is a growing awareness among us as companies and the entire nation regarding the impact on the environment in which we live and work, the truth is that we are still awaited by a long road.