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PETALING JAYA: Carlsberg Brewery Malaysia Bhd reckons that on-trade volume recovery is still in flux despite the gradual lifting of dine-in restrictions by the authorities, according to managing director Stefano Clini (pix).

While the previous lockdown and the ensuing restrictions had affected the brewer’s on-trade channels – coffee shops, restaurants, pubs and bars – he pointed out that a lifting of dine-in restrictions translated into a bigger pickup in sales through such channels then.

This time around, however, Clini observed a different scenario playing out in Penang, which eased restrictions on Aug 8 but has seen slow progress in sales via on-trade channels.

“This is a combination of two factors. One, most operators still don’t feel like opening yet, so most of the outlets are still closed, and the other is that consumers are still a bit worried about going out and dining in,” he told the media at the group’s virtual briefing on its second-quarter 2021 results on Friday.

The Carlsberg Malaysia managing director conceded that the situation in the Klang Valley, which saw the lifting of dine-in restrictions for fully vaccinated individuals last Thursday, might play out differently than Penang’s experience as it has younger consumers.

“I don’t know whether the sales and footfalls in the outlets are going to be as slow as in Penang or will it be as fast as it was the last time. Maybe it will be in between.”

However, Clini highlighted that the Covid-19 vaccination rate in Penang is much lower than that in the Klang Valley.

Given the uncertainty due to the pandemic, as the number of new cases shows no sign of abating, which has affected consumer sentiment, Carlsberg Malaysia has adopted a conservative outlook for the remainder of the year.

“For now we are hopeful the situation is going to improve with the announcement that dine-in can resume in Phase 1 states, including the Klang Valley, but we still don’t know what is going to happen next in the coming months. So we need to keep a cautious outlook for the rest of the year.”

For the first six months ended June 30, 2021, Carlsberg’s net profit grew 23.9% to RM103.59 million against RM83.60 million reported for the same half of the previous year. Revenue for the period remained flat at RM881.20 million against RM877.15 million previously. It declared an interim dividend of 10 sen per share, amounting to RM30.6 million.

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