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FRANCE: Acquisitions push Belvédère to record 2007

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Belvédère has seen acquisitions in 2007 drive sales for the year to record highs.

The France-based spirits and wine producer and distributor said yesterday (14 February) that net sales for 2007 leapt by 35.3% on the year before, coming in at EUR1.04bn (US$1.53bn), thanks in part to the acqusition of Florida Distillers Company from Vin & Sprit Group in April.

Stripping out the purchase, as well as the acquisition of a Polish distributor last year, sales for 2007 were up by 16.3% to EUR593.4m.

Also in 2007, the group closed the sale of the alcohol-free division of its Marie Brizard unit to Orangina Group for EUR178m.

In Poland, the company saw "some of the strongest growth in its history", with sales rising by 77.8% year-on-year. Minus the acquisitions, sales were up by 30.8% in the country. In France, Belvedere saw its wine sales continue to struggle, falling 15.4%. Spirits sales, however, posted record growth for the group of 4.9%.

In the US, meanwhile, the launch in 2007 of the company's Sobieski vodka brand was described as "very promising", with over 70,000 nine-litre cases sold between September and December. Belvedere is looking to break the 1m-case barrier for the brand in the country by 2009/2010.

"The very high level of sales recorded by Belvédère during the last quarter of 2007 for its spirits business should make it possible to offset in large part the non-recurring charges incurred during the first half of the year, as well as the weak performance of the wine business in France during the year," the company said. "Our group should thus be in a position to reach a level of EBITDA between EUR60m and EUR65m before restatements related to businesses and operations sold or terminated."


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