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US: Constellation shrugs off sliding wine sales

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Constellation Brands shrugged off a dip in wine sales over the last three months to post rising annual revenues and earnings.

The US drinks giant, which earlier this week expanded its wine stable with the acquisition of Canada's Vincor International, saw fourth-quarter wine sales slide 3% due to falling demand for its brands from UK retailers.

However, for the full year to 28 February, Constellation posted a 13% rise in wine sales, a performance that drove an identical jump in group net sales to US$4.6bn. Net income rose 18% to US$325.3m.

"US wine consumers are clearly spending more on wine and they want more variety. We believe these are long-term trends which present tremendous unharvested opportunities for companies with consumer insight, the right products and a strong route-to-market," said Constellation chairman and CEO Richard Sands yesterday (6 April).

The company saw branded net wine sales in Europe rise 3% last year, while in Australasia, they rose by 5%.

Constellation saw revenues from its beer and spirits division rise 11% to US$1.4bn buoyed by rising sales from its import beer portfolio, which includes Corona and Tsingtao.

Sands said: "Our imported beer business was a phenomenal growth driver in fiscal 2006, and has excellent momentum heading into fiscal 2007."


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