Carlsberg increased sales by eight per cent last year to DKK41bn (€5.5bn), helped on by a four per cent revenue rise in its Western European heartland. Nils Andersen, Carlsberg CEO, said the rise "shows that the many changes made in Carlsberg in recent years are bearing fruit". Western Europe's mature status has caused problems for most of the major brewers over the last couple of years, with Carslberg even unveiling a plan to shut several key sites in anticipation of a shift to Asia. But lady luck came up with the goods for European beer markets last year, with the football World Cup in Germany in June and a spate of unusually hot weather sweeping much of the continent. Carlberg's volumes in Western Europe rose at two per cent, slower than revenue growth, which indicates the market has continued to emerge as a valuable arena for premium beer. Russia and China again steered the bulk of Carlsberg's sales growth for the year. Russia jumped up 10 per cent, while Asian beer sales were up 38 per cent by volume, of which 24 per cent came from acquisitions in Western China during the year. The firm appeared bullish heading into 2007, despite talk of more input cost rises. Sales growth is expected to slow to five per cent for the year, however.