Blavod Wines & Spirits has reported strong sales growth in the first half of its fiscal year, but said profits were held back by a poor performance from its Black Vodka brand.

The owner and licensee of Blackwood's Gin said sales for the six months to the end of September reached GBP4.1m (US$6.6m), from GBP2.5m in the previous year.

Case sales grew by 35 % over the previous year and the group said it benefited from the addition of higher value brands, such as Bruichladdich Scotch whisky.

Net income, however, was affected by poor sales of Blavod Black Vodka and a combination of higher overheads and higher interest charges.

Net profits were GBP43,000, flat against the prior year before a one-off cost of  GBP23,000 relating to discontinued business Blavod USA.

Sales of Blavod Black Vodka, which generates high margins, were down in Eastern Europe and Duty Free.

Volumes also suffered as a result of the company's policy of great prudence over credit, which led it to forfeit some orders overseas and in the UK, Blavod said. 

Despite this, the company said it is "optimistic" for the second half of the year, traditionally the larger in sales and profit terms, in spite of a trading environment which continues to be "difficult and uncertain".

For the full year to the end of March 2010, the group said it expects to report results "significantly ahead of last year" but "slightly below market expectations" given the uncertainties and challenges in relation to the second half of the year.