The Norwegian monopoly alcohol retailer Vinmonopolet has reported a significant increase in sales performance for its first quarter.

Vinmonopolet said sales had risen by 12.3m litres, representing a 10% gain, in the three months of 2006. The improvement was attributed to the early Easter, during which the retailer sold 1.8m litres, 0.6m litres more than the year before.

In January, the company reported that sales in 2006 had risen by 3.5% on 2005, coming in at 68.75m litres. Vinmonopolet was formerly both a retail and wholesale alcohol monopoly but was split up in 1996 under rules governing the European Economic Area.