Gerolsteiner Brunnen has posted a slight lift in sales for the first seven months of 2006.

The Bitburger-controlled mineral water business said yesterday (5 September) that turnover was up by 6.6% in value terms, coming in at EUR123.3m (US$157.6m). In volume terms, sales rose by 3.7% to 4.2m hectolitres.

Gerolsteiner forecast that it will break the 7m hectolitre barrier for the full year.

The company claimed that the growth was down to an increased emphasis on innovation. Around 10% of turnover was credited coming from products introduced to the German market in the last three years.

"The company's strategy is to increase our range of alcohol-free products and enhance the packaging to strengthen our position in the market," said Joerg Croseck, manager for marketing, sales and personnel. "The end user is our top priority. His desire is our lead for new products and this will give our partners a value to work with."

Exports increased in the period by 3%, while new markets have been explored, including Austria, Switzerland, Turkey, Egypt, Japan and China.

Gerolsteiner is the market leader for mineral water in Germany. Despite a slide in revenues in 2005 of 2.2% on the previous year, Gerolsteiner remained the leader of the segment with 9% market share.

The Bitburger Group holds a 51% stake in the company. The Buse Group Bad Hoeningen also holds a large stake, while 17% of shares are in private ownership.