BBAG, the holding company for Austrian brewer and drinks maker Brau-Union A, today reported that its first quarter sales had fallen 8.5% to €221.83m

The company, which is in the midst of a takeover offer from the Dutch giant Heineken blamed a long winter and the fact that Easter fell in the second quarter this year. Volumes fell 7.5% to 3.4 million hectolitres.

IN the Czech Republic sales fell 3.2%, in Hungary 7.8% and in Poland sales fell 17%. The fall in sales triggered a 96% collapse in pre-tax profits to €330,000 from €7.43m for the first quarter last year. Meanwhile operating profits dropped 74% to €3.42m.

However the group said that price increase it had implemented in March and April would begin to show dividends in the second quarter.