homepage_name! > Editions > Number 122-123 > Interview - Vladimir Vava CARLSBERG

Vladimir Vava, CEO of Carlsberg Srbija

The Story of LAV

Carlsberg has set very ambitious goals in matters of sustainable development for all of its companies around the world to be reached by 2030. The initiative has been dubbed “TOGETHER TOWARDS ZERO”, referring to four ambitions: ZERO carbon footprint, ZERO water waste, a ZERO accidents culture, and ZERO irresponsible drinking. We are working hard to achieve these goals and I will mention some of the Čelarevo Brewery’s largest investments in the field of sustainable development, such as our wastewater treatment plant, CO2 stations, biomass boiler room, and so on.

Mr. Vladimir Vava, CEO of Carlsberg Srbija speaks for Profit magazine.

1.Another successful business year is behind you. What are the results in the first six months of this year?

The first part of the year was quite challenging for the beer industry. April, May, and much of June saw low temperatures and plenty of rainy days, which certainly affected consumers and their need to buy beer. Nevertheless, we tried to stay up-to-date through some great innovations and interesting communication. We hope that the second part of the year, the rest of the summer and early autumn in particular, will have much more sunshine and warm temperatures, and that beer will be the beverage of choice for refreshment and a good time.

2.In recent years, the Serbian beer industry has recorded growth. What does, in your opinion, affect the business?

The brewing sector was severely affected by the economic crisis, which culminated in 2009 and 2010 on the Serbian market. The decline in production in 2010 compared to 2008 was almost 10%. However, over the past four years, the beer market has been stabilized. In 2018, production reached its peak in the last 10 years, but its value has not yet reached the pre-crisis period – more precisely, compared to 2008, production was 3.02% lower in 2018.

The reasons for this are numerous and, unfortunately, one of the most important reasons is a decrease in the country’s population, both due to the outflow of people and negative growth. This burning social issue is certainly reflected in the beer sector, and we hope that the situation will change for the better in the years to come.

3.Serbia is a big exporter of beer. Which countries are the largest importers and where does such a big demand for Serbian beer come from?

The largest export of Serbian breweries is related to daughter companies within their international groups.

In 2018, exports were 17.10% greater than, for example, three years earlier. Exports have been growing at an average of 1.52% since 2008. In 2018, the largest importers of beer from Serbia were Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, and Montenegro.

The fact that our breweries export beer made in Serbia to numerous markets in Europe and beyond speaks highly of the exceptional standards and operational efficiency of domestic factories within their own groups – something we are particularly proud of.

4.There is a long tradition of beer drinking in Serbia. How different are our customers compared to those from other countries in the region?

Consumers in Serbia prefer light lager beer, and this is a tradition that obviously does not change, nor are there any indications that this will significantly change in the near future. Trends from countries in the region and Europe reach Serbia with some delay, including the people’s willingness to try different types of beers. Numerous craft brewers have popped up recently, along with a stable market for shandy and wheat beer. On the other hand, there is an increasing trend of drinking non-alcoholic beer in Europe, which has not yet become common in our country.

So, as consumers, we like to try new things, but most of us still go back to the well-known taste of the lager beer that has been produced in our country for the longest time.

5.We often see craft beer from domestic breweries on the supermarket shelves. In what way, if any, is that going to affect the business of large industrial giants?

Craft brewing, as I mentioned earlier, has been an ongoing trend in Europe and America for years. It is becoming more and more prominent in our country, but craft beer is far from having a higher market share in its total volume.

We believe that the emergence of craft breweries is a very positive thing for our industry, because it increases the attractiveness of the product itself and it is very good for beer lovers to have a great selection of types and tastes to choose from.

6.Are there any changes/innovations in terms of the production system itself?

7.In addition to innovations in terms of packaging and the types of beer we market, most of the innovations in the Čelarevo Brewery concern energy efficiency and CO2-neutral production. Carlsberg has set very ambitious goals in matters of sustainable development for all of its companies around the world to be reached by 2030. The initiative has been dubbed “TOGETHER TOWARDS ZERO”, referring to four ambitions: Zero carbon footprint, zero water waste, a zero accidents culture, and zero irresponsible drinking. We are working hard to achieve these goals and I will mention some of the Čelarevo Brewery’s largest investments in the field of sustainable development, such as our wastewater treatment plant, CO2 stations, biomass boiler room, and so on. In order for the company to survive in competitive market conditions, it is necessary to always respond to consumer demands. What novelties have you prepared for them this summer?

This year is really significant for Carlsberg Srbija when it comes to novelties in our portfolio.

We started the year with a very unusual project not only for the domestic market, but also for the Carlsberg world, of which we are very proud. It is the launch of Zrenjanin Beer, a project that we are realizing in cooperation with the City of Zrenjanin, which has special significance for us as a company and for the entire community. Namely, in addition to the fact that after several decades we have revived this famous beer brand, 2 dinars from each sold bottle of Zrenjanin Beer go to a special fund for building a craft brewery in the city of Zrenjanin, which is our donation to the residents of Zrenjanin in order to restore the production of their favourite brand in their city.

Already in April, after a 10-year hiatus, the production line in Čelarevo produced the famous LAV Premium beer for which the brewery was well-known in the first decade of this century. What used to be a favourite brand for beer lovers in 0.31 L bottles, once again found its place on the shelf with its well-known label and a really great recipe from 100% barley malt. Customers’ reactions to this great comeback in the first months of sale have been very positive.

Last but not least, a new taste on the domestic market in the shape of our brand, Kronenbourg Blanc, appeared in April. It is a wheat beer with a very fine citrus note and a touch of coriander. A complete novelty, not only in terms of taste, but also packaging, exuding elegance and a French style, owing to its French origins.

We truly believe that our novelties will “touch the hearts and satisfy the taste buds of consumers”, as the first reactions have shown, which is what motivates us to be better and work on new things even more intensely.

8.Since last year, you have been the head of the Association of Breweries of Serbia. What was the main motivation for founding this Association and what are its goals?

The Association of Breweries of Serbia gathers the largest beer producers in Serbia, as well as the largest malt plant on the domestic market. The aim of the Association is to actively work on the promotion of responsible beer consumption, to educate young people on the prevention of alcohol abuse and the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol, and to once again spread the story of beer as one of the oldest drinks of civilization called“liquid bread” due to its nutritional value. On the other hand, the goal of the Association is to actively engage in dialogue with relevant institutions on all issues that can contribute to the stability and improvement of the economic climate in which the breweries in Serbia operate.

9.Care for employees and the wider community is one of Carlsberg’s main priorities. Through which activities and projects are you conducting socially responsible business?

Those who follow Carlsberg’s global activities certainly know that we are a company whose vision is much more than simply generating profit.


In practice, it involves constant investment in the welfare of the community in which we operate, in order to make it as prosperous and healthy as possible for its people. I have already mentioned our goals in matters of sustainable development that make up an enormous part of the commitment to the community in which we operate.

Since its arrival in Serbia, Carlsberg Srbija has, for over 15 years, been following and applying the most up-to-date global trends in the field of environmental protection when it comes to our production facilities at the Čelarevo Brewery, which I also mentioned earlier.

At the same time, through the Carlsberg and Dunđerski Foundation, founded in 2015, in many ways, we are supporting local initiatives aimed at arranging and preserving the environment, as well as the development of young people through education and sports.

Our employees, who regularly participate in numerous volunteering activities to clean parks, protected areas of nature, and other green areas, play an important role in this process aimed at raising the citizens’ awareness about this topic.

10.Tell us more about the current campaign of your brand LAV, Lav for Eagles, which you are doing in cooperation with the Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Bird Protection and Study Society of Serbia.

Thanks to the close relationship between beer lovers and our brands, we believe it is important to use them as a channel that can effectively reach our consumers. In the last few years, Lav Beer has been engaged in the topic of national pride, which we decided to connect with the topic of environment in our ongoing campaign, because we believe that they are essentially inseparable.

Throughout Serbia’s history, the eastern imperial eagle has been its symbol, and the reason why it is on the verge of extinction today is because of irresponsible attitude of people towards nature.

Therefore, we decided to do something about it with the “Lav for Eagles” campaign, and together with our partners raise awareness of the inseparability of the identity of the Serbian people from the environment in which they have lived for centuries and everything that makes Serbia special – the incredible diversity of its flora and fauna.

In order to contribute to the preservation of these natural resources, we decided to set aside one dinar from the sale of each 0.5 L Lav bottle for the restoration of the eastern imperial eagle habitat, which is key for returning this species to its centuries-old habitat.

The campaign has just begun, but we firmly believe that it will echo in the public and that we will contribute to raising people’s awareness of this problem as well as the general ecological issues in the country, which we consider to be of crucial importance for the prosperity and health of society.

11.Since 2008, every first Friday in August sees the celebration of the International Beer Day. How is your company going to celebrate it?

The way Carlsberg in Serbia celebrates this day is primarily through informing the employees and consumers about the consequences of alcohol abuse and its prevention. In addition to these activities, we are actively working on the promotion of responsible beer consumption through the campaign of the Association of Breweries of Serbia under the slogan “Soberly and Carefully”.

12.Successful leaders must possess the abilities and skills that will ensure success of all employees. Your accomplishments have proven this. What advice would you give young people, i.e. future leaders?

Constant learning and working on yourself always pay off.

Vladimir Vava has been the CEO of Carlsberg Srbija since February 1, 2017, as well as the President of the Association of Breweries of Serbia since mid-2018.

Vladimir came to Serbia after three years at the position of the Vice President of Sales at Baltika Breweries, a Russian company owned by the Carlsberg Group.

Before deciding to continue his career in Carlsberg, Vladimir Vava was the Vice President of Sales and Operations for Spain and Portugal at Makro Cash&Carry, the retail chain of the Metro Group. Vladimir Vava started his career in the sector of marketing and sales at CB Holding in Belgrade, continued to build it at Metro Cash&Carry Romania, after which he took the lead in the sales sector at the same company in Russia.

Vladimir has been working on increasing his knowledge and developing his skills for more than ten years on various leading positions within the sales sector across Europe. Vladimir Vava, born in Romania in 1968, studied Hydromechanics at the University of Timișoara, and got an MBA diploma from the Sheffield University in the United Kingdom.

He is married and has two children.