Canada-based wine firm Andrew Peller has reported a drop in half-year profits, despite an increase in sales.

Net earnings from continuing operations dropped to C$4.2m (US$3.9m) for the six months ended 30 September, compared to C$5.1m for the comparable prior year period, the company reported today (9 November).

Including the impact of losses and unusual items and the results of discontinued operations, net earnings for the period edged up to C$5.5m from C$5.1m in the previous year.

Sales increased 7.2% to C$131.9m as a result of the impact of acquisitions, ongoing initiatives to grow sales of the company's blended varietal table and premium wines and the introduction of new products.

"We are pleased to see continued solid organic growth across the majority of our trade channels in fiscal 2010," said John Peller, president and CEO. "Looking ahead, we are beginning to see an improvement in sales at our estate wineries and expect improved performance through the balance of the fiscal year and going forward."

Sales for the second quarter of fiscal 2010 increased 1.7% to C$67m from $65.8m in the prior year, while net earnings reached C$1.6m from $2.7m in 2008.

In October, the company announced its intention to sell its ownership in Granville Island Brewing Company and Mainland Beverage Distribution to Creemore Springs Brewery, a stand-alone craft brewery owned by Molson Coors Canada.

The transaction is expected to be completed in early 2010 and proceeds from the sale will be used to reduce long-term debt and bank indebtedness, Peller said.