Vranken-Pommery Monopole has posted a slight slip in sales for the traditionally slow first quarter.

The Champagne group, which also operates in the Port and rosé wine sectors, said today (24 April) that total sales for the first three months of 2008 dipped by 0.7% on the corresponding period a year ago, coming in at EUR41.8m (US$65.8m). While Champagne sales were flat, up 0.3% to EUR37.7m, 'other businesses' fell by 8.8% to EUR4.1m.

Champagne exports performed well, the company said, rising by 34.2%, led by Europe and Japan.

"In 2008, we intend to continue building on last year's significant improvement in the sales of our international brands," said company chairman and CEO, Paul-François Vranken. "The first quarter, which is traditionally a fairly calm period for the Champagne business, was in line with expectations."

At the beginning of this year, Vranken-Pommery reviewed its marketing organisation, creating two 'Prestige' networks in Europe, one for Vranken and the other for Pommery. "The coexistence of these two networks will enable us to distribute our brands more widely and to expand each network's customer base," the company said.

Moving forward, the company said that it remains confident and intends "to pursue its strategic focus on growth and higher margins" in 2008.