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Mr Andrej Beslac, Business Development Manager, Carlsberg Srbija

Brewery Pivara ”Čelarevo” was founded in 1892 by Lazar Dunđerski, one of the most distinguished Serbian land owners at that time, in Čelarevo, at the agricultural land of his family. The initial capacity was 10,000 hl per year. After World War II, in the process of nationalization, the brewery turned from private to state and social property. Significant technological development began in the 1970s, although the brewery produced 150,000hl annually until 1975. In 1980, the most state-of-the art production facility of that time, with two beer bottling lines and a modern cooling and tank storage system, was constructed. The brewery started expanding operations rapidly in 1990, when the latest brewing facility with the capacity of 1,200,000hl annually was launched. Throughout its history, brewery Pivara “Čelarevo” produced Dunđersko, Čib, Tref zlatno, Standard, Herkules Dark, Export a la Pilsen, Novosadsko, Specijalno Dark, Lav Special beers. In September 2003, a majority share package in Pivara Čelarevo a.d. was acquired by Carlsberg Breweries A/S. The privatization of Pivara “Čelarevo is one of the most successful privatizations in Serbia, and Carlsberg is ranked among largest foreign investors in the Serbian economy. Resulting from hard work and commitment of all the employees, the brewery satisfied standards and quality and in September 2005 obtained the prestigious name of Carlsberg Srbija d.o.o. and became part of international beer production concern Carlsberg Breweries A/S.

Andrej Beslac

We had the honor to talk to  Mr. Andrej Beslać, Business Development Manager ,Carlsberg Srbija.

When and where were you born? Which faculty did you graduate from?

I was born in Belgrade in 1976. I mainly studied abroad. I obtained a BBA diploma in Finance in the USA, and a master degree at the renowned Institute of Political Sciences in Paris.

How has your career developed?

At the end of 2002, after years of working at the Paris Stock Exchange, I decided to return to Serbia and launch my professional career. My first job was in cement plant Cementara Popovac, which was privatized by Holcim at that time.
As Financial Controller, I worked on the introduction of procedures and standards of the Swiss company and on a new structure of the privatized giant. Those were highly demanding tasks which meant a lot for my further career, since the company was completely restructured. It is now one of the most successful companies in Serbia.

An opportunity for a new challenge in privatized Pivara Čelarevo brought me to Denmark’s Carlsberg in 2005. Several months earlier, the company entered our market by acquiring the brewery.

Carlsberg Srbija quickly established a method of business operations defined by such a large corporation and introduced the same standards as in other breweries owned by Carlsberg Group in Western Europe. It also managed to set up a team of experts who executed all assigned tasks and objectives in the best possible manner. Work in such an international company is based on supporting winning behaviors, team spirit, acknowledgement of success, and sharing of Carlsberg’s experience in more than 150 countries where it operates.

Since when has Carlsberg been present at the market of Serbia?

By acquiring Pivara Čelarevo, Carlsberg Srbija entered the Serbian beer market in 2004. With a share of only 10% and the fifth position at the beer market, a very demanding and difficult task of winning a leading position with the brewery’s brands was defined. Six years later, the success is evident since our market share is nearly 30% and we assume the second position. Although the economic crisis has influenced a decrease of beer consumption in Serbia, we managed to achieve 6% growth in 2010 compared to the year before. It proved that suitable strategic actions and hard work always bring results, even when we are in a difficult economic situation, which puts pressure on all segments of the society.

Carlsberg Srbija represents an innovative company. Which innovations did you introduce in 2010?

The largest and the most important innovation in 2010 was the new Lav bottle. It enabled us to provide a unique experience to our consumers by combining what is good and of high quality and position that brand on a par with the leading global brewing brands.

In addition to the new Lav bottle, we offered Lav Dark beer to our consumers who search for a unique strong beer taste.

Tell us something about the product portfolio and strategic plans in that area?

The portfolio of our company includes brands which satisfy the taste of all our consumers.

Merak as a high-quality beer at an affordable price is bottled in 0.5l refundable glass packaging as of January 10, in addition to the existing 2l PET packaging.
As our leading brand, Lav confirms why it is part of everyday life of millions of consumers with its quality, taste and value.

As the brand which “likes music”, Tuborg targets the group of younger consumers who like to live life to its fullest.

Carlsberg, as a super premium brand, represents “probably the best beer in the world”, as the slogan itself describes it.

What is the best brand of the company and what is your favorite brand?

Lav is our largest brand, but all brands deserve equal attention and represent a product of a deep analysis of our consumers’ needs. For our company, consumers are always in the centre of every decision, and that is why we are so committed to surveying their needs.

What are your corporate plans for the coming period?

As I have already mentioned, in the first two months we already offered two innovations to our consumers, Merak in 0.5l refundable glass packaging, and Somersby, a cosmopolitan apple beverage. For the first time in the history of Serbia, we will launch a beer made by our consumers in March. It will be a unique joint process, which will bring a brand whose taste, design and name will result from cooperation between our consumers and the brewery.

The plan for Carlsberg in 2010 was to invest around EUR14 million in production, sales and logistics improvements. Did you achieve that plan and what is an investment plan for 2011?

The investment in the new Lav bottle alone was worth EUR11 million. Furthermore, we are the only brewery which launched a waste water treatment system, worth EUR5 million, built an additional storage facility and invested additional funds in sales equipment, thus exceeding the planned amount of investments. This year we plan a similar level of investments through various innovations and development of diverse processes in our business operations.

Is the beer market in Serbia developed sufficiently compared to other countries in the region?

The beer market in Serbia is quite segmented and three international companies, Starbev (former Inbev), Carlsberg and Heineken – USP, have the highest share. The situation is similar in other countries in the region where the same companies have their breweries.

Tell us something about the fight for the market position.

The fight for the market position is based on proper strategic decisions regarding the implementation of our ideas in practice, as well as on listening to needs of our consumers. At every moment we strive to position the right product at the right place.
How much has the market in Serbia been different from markets of the neighboring countries in the last two years?

The beer market trend in countries in the region is similar to the one in Serbia.

In the last two years, beer consumption has been decreasing rapidly due to the economic crisis.

In the same period, beers with a “popular” price have recorded an increase of share in the total turnover, while a share of the premium segment has decreased.
What are the main postulates of the

Carlsberg Srbija ensures significant growth and long-term stability as the most favorite company for beer and beverages production of consumers, customers, shareholders, employees, suppliers, and the social community, through brands, services and attitudes which exceed expectations of those stakeholders.

The main postulates of Carlsberg Srbija are winning behaviors, which represent a basis of business operations of the whole Group:

•    We are stronger together.

•    We want to win.

•    Our customers and consumers are at the heart of every decision we make.

•    We are each empowered to make a difference.

•    We are engaged with society.
Carlsberg is present in more than 150 countries worldwide. What are your estimates for Carlsberg in Serbia in the next decade?

Our strategy and objective are to become the leading brewing group in the country, committed to satisfying our stakeholders by providing best-quality products and services, bringing fun and pleasure to consumers through an innovative and dynamic spirit.

Since we have had impressive growth in the last six years, we are certain that we are close to achieving that objective.

How much does the company invest in employee development?

One of major assets of the company is its people. Carlsberg Srbija constantly strives to develop its employees through various development programs, as well as to detect talents who will get a special attention in their development plan („Open Carlsberg“ project). We also strive to generate thirst for success and encourage and develop winning behaviors at each employee.

How much does the company rely on Carlsberg Group as its holding company?

Carlsberg Srbija has huge support of its holding company. In addition to global strategic projects, where we are actively involved in their design and implementation, we have access to and support of all sister companies, operating at 150 markets worldwide. Exchange of experience is an invaluable advantage which we often take.

It is a common knowledge that the company is particularly active in the CSR area. What are the company’s investments in those projects?

We in Carlsberg Srbija believe that active development of corporate social responsibility can help us eliminate risks, attract and retain employees, improve our reputation, reduce negative social influences and negative influences of the environment, and thus fully strengthen our business operations. Carlsberg Srbija’s operations are focused on providing positive contribution to the society and the environment by developing and implementing CSR practice, which also enables us to achieve financial successes.

As the brewing company with the fastest growth, our influence on the society has constantly been increasing. Therefore, a strategic and systematic approach to CSR is of utmost importance.

CSR is a multidimensional area, starting from human rights, to workers’ rights and business ethics, to awareness regarding environmental protection and responsible beer consumption. Since it is an area which influences many segments of business operations, there is no position or job in our company which does not deal with CSR.

Why did you choose Carlsberg Srbija?

With its postulates, Carlsberg Srbija represents “probably the best company in the world” and fully suits my moral, intellectual and emotional principles.

What beer do you consume?

I drink Lav when I watch football, Tuborg when I go out, and Carlsberg when I am with my friends.

How do you spend your leisure time?

I like skiing, so I relax by skiing during winter season and when my obligations allow.

If you could, what would you change in your career so far?

I would not change anything….

What are your future career expectations?

My expectations are to gain experience and know-how through various innovations, projects and strategy development, which will enable us to become No. 1 in the brewing industry.