Vranken Pommery Monopole has shrugged off first-half losses and insisted the seasonal nature of the Champagne market had hit earnings during the first six months of the year.

The Champagne group today (18 October) reported a first-half net loss of EUR3.1m (US$3.9m).

However, a Vranken spokesman said the company would return to profit during the second half of the year, when it enjoys the majority of its sales.

"We always tend to make a loss during the first semester but that does not mean we will make a loss for the whole year," the spokesman told just-drinks. "The last three months make up most of our sales during the year."

Vranken also named Frederic Zeimett as its new chief executive. Zeimett will take up the post on 2 November, replacing Paul Francois Vranken, who is currently chairman and chief executive.

The spokesman said Zeimett was appointed due to his experience in international markets. He added: "We want to focus more on the development of our international business."

The company boasts a Champagne stable including the Heidsieck and Cuvee Diamant brands as well as a wine portfolio including labels from the Cote du Rhone and Cote de Provence.