Rémy Cointreau, the French Champagne and Cognac group, has blamed destocking in key markets during the economic downturn for a 13% drop in net sales in its fiscal full-year.

Net sales for the 12 months to the end of March fell by 12.7% to EUR714m (US$1bn), Rémy said today (10 June). Like-for-like sales fell by 11.6%. Net profits fell by 14% to EUR86m, albeit in-line with the group's expectations.

Rémy attributed the sales fall to the "economic environment, significant destocking in the markets over a number of months, as well as certain inventories being returned to the group by Maxxium".

The firm's share price slipped by 2%, to EUR26.9, in the first three hours of trading on the Paris stock exchange this morning, after it declined to offer profits guidance for fiscal 2009/10.

In Champagne, Rémy's net sales fell by 9% to EUR125.9m, with a operating profits limited to a 3% drop due to lower advertising spend and higher prices. Group operating profits fell by 13% to EUR137m for the year.

Like-for-like Cognac sales fell by 13.6% to EUR311m, with significant volume declines in Russia and the US, but Rémy Martin reported double-digit growth in China.

"Rémy Cointreau remains confident in its ability to successfully withstand this period of unfavourable economic conditions, owing to the strength of its brands, the dynamics provided by its new commercial resources, and the quality of the financing at its disposal," the group said.