Despite having to presently import the vast majority of its annual supply of about 550m bottles for its lucrative RTD and cider segments, Distell has still managed to show handsome interim returns for the six months to the end of December.

The company said yesterday (13 February) that it also suffered a set-back with carbon dioxide (CO2 ) gas, but managed to increase RTD and cider sales volumes by 10.6%. A pilot CO 2 plant was being set up in Paarl, which should meet Distell's needs.

With one of its major domestic suppliers refurbishing a furnace, the company is sourcing bottles from four suppliers in the Middle East and Central America. Distell managing director, Jan Scannell, said the problem was expected to ease by May.

The company, however, lifted turnover by 12.9% to ZAR4.80bn (US$627.6m), while headline earnings went up by 17.9% to ZAR550m. Interim dividends went up 19.5% from last year to 104c a share.

Scannell said international markets outside Africa showed a 20.7% increase in revenue on a sales volume growth of 17.7%, with both spirits and wines recording good growth. Wines sales in Germany, Scandinavia and Canada were particularly promising.