Efes Breweries International recorded a net loss of US$14.5m in its first quarter as a result of higher financial expenses due to increased average indebtedness, the company reported on Friday (30 May).

EBI also delivered a loss from operations of US$6.3m versus an operating profit of $1.8m in the same period last year, which was positively impacted by the income from the sale of the company's soft drink brands in Moldova.

Consolidated sales volume reached 2.57m hectolitres for the period to 31 March, increasing by 12% over the comparable period of the previous year.

EBI's sales volume growth was driven by strong performances in Russia and Kazakhstan, where the year-on-year increase in sales volume was 13.5% and 13.1%, respectively. The company increased its consolidated net sales revenue to $176.5m, up by 39.6% over the same period in 2007.

"We are happy to report strong top line growth that we have achieved in the first quarter of 2008, which is especially driven by Russia, where we achieved double digit volume growth despite a stable market and strong base effect of 1Q2007" said Alejandro Jimenez, CEO of EBI. "We intend to continue outperforming the market going forward as well."

Although EBI's consolidated EBITDA increased by 4.8% in the first quarter over
the comparable period of previous year, EBITDA margin contracted to 9.3% in versus 12.4% in 2007.

The company said EBITDA margin is expected to develop throughout 2008 as it sells more volumes, which is expected to limit the impact of the input cost pressures at lower levels through the its operating efficiencies.

EBI entered the Georgian beer market with the acquisition of Lomisi in February 2008 and included this operation in its financials starting from 1 March.