Integrated beverage company Leading Brands blamed large increases in discounts, rebates and slotting fees for its 2005 fiscal year loss of US$1.3m.

The Vancouver-based company posted the loss after turning a profit of US$626,000 the year before. Gross revenues were up 14% in 2005 to US$39.3m.

The company also reversed a declining revenue trend halfway through the year, with fourth-quarter gross revenues up 34% on last year.

Leading Brands said "substantial" increases in slotting fees and promotions supporting brands such as TrueBlue had led to a near-200% increase in discounts, rebates and slotting fees to US$2.5m.

Chairman and CEO Ralph McRae said: "Sales growth in the first quarter of 2006 continued at a robust pace. With our margin-enhancement initiatives completed during the last quarter, we are once again pushing full steam ahead on expanding distribution of our brands."