Hawesko Holding has posted a rise in group sales. The German wine merchants, based in Hamburg, announced a climb in sales for fiscal 2003 of 4.2% to €279m (US$352.7m).

Earnings before interest and taxation (EBIT) are forecast to be somewhere between €14.5m and €15m.

In the fourth quarter of 2003 (1 October - 31 December 2003), sales were maintained at just under € 95m and thus roughly at the level of the same quarter in the previous year (-1 %). The group's EBIT rose to nearly €11m in the quarter under review (previous year: €9m).

CEO Alexander Margaritoff stated that the Hawesko group expected an increase in sales as well as results for the current 2004 fiscal year. In his estimation, the Hawesko Group is in an excellent position to benefit when the inklings of improvement in the economy become stronger.

"New market surveys confirm that Hawesko is increasing its market share considerably in the continuingly difficult market environment," said Margaritoff. "The success of our strategy shows itself, for example, in the ultra-premium segment: Carl Tesdorpf has moved up within a short time to become Germany's third largest mail-order wine company.

"We will continue to focus on awakening the consumers' desire to have fun with wine and on further improving and expanding our first-class assortment of fine wines," he continued.

"All in all," he concluded, "we have good reason to be optimistic for 2004."