Belvédère, the French drinks group under a bankruptcy protection order in France, has reported a net loss for the first six months of 2009.

Belvédère swung to losses of EUR1.5m (US$2.2m) for the six months to the end of June, against net profits of EUR5.66m for the same period of 2008, the group said on Friday (31 October).

Operating profits halved, tumbling from EUR12.4m last year to EUR6.3m, said the group, which owns Sobieski vodka.

Net sales slipped to EUR424.6m, down from EUR572.4m in the same period of last year.

Higher marketing spend to promote Sobieski vodka in the US and the effects of the economic downturn in Eastern Europe, particularly Poland, were the main reasons for the operating profits slide, said the group.

just-drinks reported last month that judicial administrators in France have accepted the debt rescheduling plan of the group at a behind-closed-doors hearing. An official court hearing is scheduled for 10 November.

The group's net debt at the end of June was EUR579m, having deepened from EUR557m at the end of December 2008.