Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of French luxury goods group Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH), saw sales slide by 17% in the first half of 2009 due to "massive destocking" by distributors.

Sales at Moët Hennessy fell to EUR1.08bn (US$1.5bn) for the six months to the end of June, compared to EUR1.29bn in the same period a year earlier, LVMH said today (28 July).

Profits from recurring operations dropped by 41% to EUR241m.

Champagne was the biggest faller for the Moët, which owns Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon Champagne, Hennessy Cognac, Glenmorangie Scotch whisky and Belvedere vodka.

"Champagne revenue was impacted by the high stock levels at distributors who destocked massively in the first half," said the firm, which is 34%-owned by Diageo

Group sales recovered slightly in the second quarter, against a 22% decline in the first quarter, partly thanks to Cognac sales in Asia, it said.

"While sticking to cutting costs and vigorously selecting its investments, the wines & spirits business group will continue its value strategy and maintain its strong culture of innovation," said LVMH.

LVMH sales crept up by 0.2% to EUR7.81bn for the half-year, but net profits fell by 23% to EUR687m.

Earlier this year, LVMH denied that it had held talks with Diageo about a sale of Moët Hennessy.