China Resources Enterprise has reported a healthy lift in group net profit for its third quarter.

The company, whose core activities include retail, food processing and distribution, textile and property investment as well as brewing, said today (19 November) that net profit for the three months to the end of September came in at HKD765m (US$98.3m), a 21% lift on the corresponding quarter a year earlier.

Group sales in the quarter slid by 20.9%, however, to HKD14.23bn, following the discontinuation of its petroleum operations in June.

The group's beverage unit, meanwhile, posted a 64.2% leap in net profit in the quarter, coming in at HKD248, as sales increased by 38.4% to HKD4.59bn. CRE works with SABMiller in China, through the China Resources Snow Breweries joint venture. The unit produces the Snow beer brand, which consolidated its position in the quarter as the single largest beer brand on the mainland.

For the first nine months of 2007, the beverage side generated a 62% climb in net profit, to HKD366m, with sales up by 42% to HKD10.88bn. In volume terms, beer sales were up by 34% to around 5.8m hectolitres for the first nine months of the year.

"We are glad to see that the underlying net profit for the third  quarter remained strong," said group managing director Mark Chen. "The robust performance of our core businesses had compensated for the profit shortfall ater the divestment of the petroleum business.

"This in turn highlights the success of our business strategies and the flourishing consumer markets in both mainland China and Hong Kong."