Davide Campari-Milano has reported solid growth in its first quarter 2007, while at the same time unveiling the appointment of its new CEO Bob Kunze-Concewitz.

The change at the top of the Italian drinks group, confirmed today (8 May) follows Enzo Visone's decision to leave the group.

Visone said: "After 20 years in Campari I felt the necessity to seek new stimuli and face new professional and entrepreneurial challenges. For this reason I have made this difficult choice that I face in full professional maturity and with a track record of excellence. I leave the group in excellent health and good hands for I am sure that Bob Kunze-Concewitz, an international and truly capable manager, will be able to give Gruppo Campari continuity in the direction of its business and in its growth strategy, thanks also to the passion that motivates all the managers of our group in the world."

Kunze-Concewitz, an Austrian native aged 40, joined Gruppo Campari in 2005 as group marketing officer.

Group sales totalled EUR196.6m (US$266.5m) in the first quarter, an increase of 8% over the same period last year. The overall change in consolidated sales resulted from an organic growth of 11.3% and a negative exchange rate effect of 2.6%.

Trading profit increased by 6.3% to EUR57.7m. Organic growth accounted for 6.7% and external growth for 1.7%, while exchange rate effects negatively contributed 2.1%. EBITDA rose by 7.7% to EUR46.5m, or 23.6% of sales.

The group's profit before tax was EUR37.5m.

The spirits segment recorded consolidated sales growth of 7.9%, the combined result of organic growth of 8.5%, a negative exchange rate effect of 3.6% and external growth of 3%. External growth was driven by Glen Grant, Old Smuggler and Braemar. The Campari brand posted growth of 9.4%, while SKYY vodka sales rose 12.4%.

The wine segment registered growth of 29.5%, due to the combination of strong organic growth of 30.1% and a negative exchange rate effect of 0.6%. The segment's strongly positive performance was driven by Cinzano vermouth and by Cinzano sparkling wines.

Sales of soft drinks recorded a decline of 9.3% as the company felt the effect of the termination of Lipton Ice Tea's sales.