Leading Brands has posted a huge leap in losses in its third quarter.

The Canada-based soft drinks company said today (14 January) that net losses in the three months to the end of November fell to US$1.6m from losses of $583,770 in the corresponding period a year earlier. Sales in the quarter also slid, to $7.4m from $10.4m in Q3 2006. The company blamed the poor results on "the discontinuance of three specific business lines during the latter part of fiscal 2006 and the first quarter of 2007, allowing the company to concentrate on the development of its branded healthy beverage portfolio".

For the first nine months of Leading Brands' fiscal year, net losses plunged to $3.3m from $986 in the corresponding period a year earlier, as sales fell to $24.2m from $37m.

Focusing on the Q3 performance against the second quarter, company chairman, Ralph McRae, said: "Both gross and net sales in Q3 were up slightly over Q2. Last year, gross sales dropped almost 27% from the warmer summer quarter to the cooler fall quarter, which is the norm in the beverage business. Continued strong branded beverage growth fuelled that condition this year.

"Also our net loss before taxes reduced by more than $200,000 quarter over quarter. Our cash and working capital balances remain strong and we look forward to returning to profitability in the near future, fuelled by continuing sales and margin growth while controlling costs."

Separately, the company said that former CFO Donna Louis has returned to the position, replacing Don Haliburton "who is no longer with the company".