Rémy Cointreau has today (20 October) reported a 3.9% rise in first half sales on continuing operations. The French drinks group said that total sales had reached €415.1m, compared to €415.5m in the same period last year. However, these figures take into account the Polish operations sold in August 2005.

Excluding discontinued operations, sales reached €397.6m, compared to €386.9m. Growth came primarily from partner brands, however, while sales of the group's own key brands were largely flat.

Cognac brands grew only 0.7% to 153.9m. "The low overall growth for the division masks a better growth in the superior qualities of Rémy Martin in all markets, particularly the US and China," the company said in a statement.

Liqueurs & Spirits at the group grew 0.5% to €135m. Remy said that the good performance of Cointreau, Mount Gay Rum and Passoa in the second quarter enabled each category to catch up the shortfall at the end of June.

In Champagne, sales grew 1.7% to €48.7m as the company continued to reduce focus on secondary brands in favour of of Piper-Heidsieck and Charles Heidsieck, particularly in the US, Japan and France.

Partner brands, meanwhile, were up 25.7% to €60m. Remy said: "The remarkable growth in sales in the second quarter confirms the excellent performance achieved by Scotch whiskies, as well as by the wines distributed in the US."

For the full year, Rémy Cointreau said it confirms its aim of achieving double-digit organic growth in operating profit, as already announced.