Baltic Beverages Holding has posted its figures for the first quarter of this year. Beer volume, net sales and gross margin all registered growth for the company.

Over the last 12 months, BBH beer volumes have grown by over 10%. In the first quarter of 2004, the company continued this trend.

Net sales for the quarter rose by 31%, reaching US$303m, as gross margin increased slightly by 0.3% points. EBITDA for the company subsequently rose by 26%, hitting $68m.

Going forward, BBH said, the group's performance in Q1 gives it continued confidence that it is well-placed for profitable growth in 2004. This year, BBH plans to further strengthen its business through increased brand investment, particularly in Baltika, Russia's number one beer brand.

EBITDA and EBITA margins were depressed due to higher operational gearing and much higher levels of advertising costs in the quarter, which increased by around 1.5 percentage points of net sales.

The enhanced capability in sales and distribution following the changes made in 2003 has increased the level of fixed costs and thus operational gearing, the company said. In relatively quiet quarters such as Q1, this will lead to margin pressure.