Vranken-Pommery Monopole has posted a rise in operating profit but a net loss for the first half of this year.

The Champagne group, which reported a flat set of sales results for H1 in July, said today (12 September) that recurring operating profit for the six months to the end of June leapt by 41.2% year-on-year, hitting EUR6.8m (US$9.4m).

Although the company did reduce its losses for the period, the figure remained in the red with a net loss of EUR2m compared to EUR3.1m in H1 last year. Vranken-Pommery blamed rising finance costs due to higher interest rates for the loss. Costs rose to EUR9.9m from EUR8m in the first half last year.

Vranken-Pommery's sales for the period were flat, up 0.1% to EUR87.4m.

"During the first half of 2007, Vranken-Pommery Monopole began to reap the benefits of the strategic positioning deployed in recent years, which is designed to improve the product mix," said company chairman and CEO Paul-François Vranken. "This was reflected in the strong sales of our major international brands, whose contracts have been systematically promoted, sometimes to the detriment of national brand volumes.

"We are committed to pursuing this strategy in the future."

The company noted, however, that Champagne houses traditionally generate only 30% of their annual sales during the first half, compared with nearly 50% in the final quarter. "This means that interim results cannot be extrapolated over the full year," the company said.

Looking forward, the company confirmed its outlook if full-year revenue growth in the region of 6% to 7%, through the pursuance of a "strategic focus on improving the price mix rather than on increasing unit sales".