Carlsberg confirmed this week that Doug Clydesdale’s unexpected departure from the UK arm of the business comes as the company tries to bring its UK sales into line with its European operations.

Despite having turned Carlsberg into the biggest-selling family of beer brands in the off-trade in the UK, Clydesdale had decided to leave the business following “a review of operations”, said the company. Isaac Sheps, the CEO of Carlsberg South East Europe, has been drafted in to replace him.

“It is all about the results and the targets for Western Europe,” confirmed a spokesman. “Carlsberg is bigger in Western Europe than in the UK.”

The company admitted that Carlsberg UK had “clearly demonstrated good improvements” under Clydesdale’s leadership, and that he was widely credited with revitalising the Carlsberg brand. However, it has made no secret of the fact that although the Carlsberg family of brands has overtaken Stella Artois in terms of volume, it still wants to beat its rival on value.

Although his departure at the end of the month has come as a surprise to the industry, it was “very mutual”, insisted Clydesdale. “I think the company will go through a lot of change and it’s time for a fresh challenge for me,” he told The Grocer.

Clydesdale had spent three years at the helm and 11 years at Carlsberg. He was named CEO in January 2006, having joined the company in 1998 and held senior marketing and general management positions including MD of brands and sales for Carlsberg UK, overseeing the on-trade and take-home sales divisions and marketing.

Sheps started in his new role last week, but will also remain as CEO of Carlsberg’s south east European operations until the end of the year.

“Given his track record at Carlsberg South East Europe and his leadership skills, we are convinced Sheps is the right man to take Carlsberg UK to the next level,” said Jørgen Buhl Rasmussen, president and CEO of the Carlsberg Group.