Vranken-Pommery Monopole has seen its sales in the first quarter steady after the holiday season.

The French Champagne house said yesterday (25 April) that revenue for the first three months of this year was up only slightly, at 2.6% on the corresponding quarter last year to EUR42.1m (US$57.2m). Champagne revenue, which represents 91% of this consolidated total, rose 2.7% during the quarter, led by a 4.5% improvement in the price mix, the company noted.

"We're satisfied with our first-quarter sales growth since this is traditionally a fairly calm period for the champagne business after the very busy year-end holiday season," said chairman and CEO Paul François Vranken.

The first quarter of the year historically accounts for only 15% of total annual revenue, the company noted.

Vranken-Pommery used the release of the figures to announce that it is taking over direct distribution of its Champagne in the US via its Vranken Pommery subsidiary during the later half of this year. The group said it is subsequently targeting a market share gain of between 8% and 10% in the region going forward.

Earlier this month, the company posted an 11% lift in full-year profits for 2006, with operating profit trumping 2005's EUR40.7m, hitting EUR45.3m.