Champagne house Vranken-Pommery Monopole has reported heavier losses in the first half of 2009, but sales outperformed some of its rivals in the sector.

Net sales for the six months to the end of June fell to EUR83m (US$118.8m), compared to EUR90.3m in the same period of 2008, Vranken-Pommery Monopole said today (1 September).

The fall of less than 10% compares favourably to figures released by France's wine and spirits export body, FEVS, last week, which said Champagne exports fell 45% by value in the first half of 2009.

Laurent-Perrier saw Champagne sales by value fall nearly 25% in the first quarter of 2009, with Moet Hennessy also posting a double-digit decline for the six months to the end of June.

While Champagne sales mirrored declines across the sector, Vranken-Pommery Monopole's net losses worsened in the half-year, to EUR2.9m against EUR1.9m a year earlier.

Like other Champagne houses, Vranken-Pommery said it is difficult to estimate full-year sales due to the larger amount of Champagne normally sold in the latter stages of the calendar year. "The first half generally represents less than 30% of full-year sales," said the group.

The group said that global recession means the Champagne region's ruling council should "significantly reduce" the amount of grapes released for Champagne production from the 2009 harvest - something the council will decide this week.