Robust Champagne sales boosted profits at French luxury powerhouse LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the company said yesterday (14 February).

LVMH, which owns Champagne brands including Moët et Chandon and Dom Perignon, saw growing demand for its fizz drive an 11% rise in earnings from its wine and spirits business in 2006.

Operating profit from the division, which also sells Hennessy Cognac and Glenmorangie Scotch whisky, reached EUR962m (US$1.3bn). Sales from the business rose 13% to just under EUR3bn. In all, group profits were up 16% to EUR3.2bn, while sales rose 10% to EUR15.3bn.

LVMH saw sales of its cuvées and rosés rise with Dom Perignon becoming the leader of the luxury Champagne segment.

Higher premium sales drove growth from Hennessy Cognac, while Glenmorangie "strengthened its position" in the US and Europe, LVMH said.

LVMH chairman and CEO Bernard Arnault said the company's performance in 2006 was "excellent". He said: "The year also confirmed the strong potential of our high growth rising star brands and the group's leading position in emerging markets. LVMH has shown record revenue in 2006 and has once again improved its profitability."

Arnault confirmed that LVMH would look at acquiring Absolut vodka if it comes on the market. However, he expects the selling price to rise above what the French group would be prepared to pay, according to reports yesterday.