French spirits group Marnier-Lapostolle, producer of Grand Marnier, has seen sales drop by more than 10% in the first half of this year.

The company blamed unfavourable currency rates and an economic slowdown in the US, the largest market for Grand Marnier, for a 10.6% fall in sales to EUR57.6m (US$89.6m) in the six months to the end of June.

First quarter sales plunged 20%, with the family-owned firm managing to hold even in the second quarter, compared to the same period in 2007, it announced today (1 August) 

Its difficulties serve as a further warning to drinks firms about the potential effects of an economic slowdown in western markets.

Marnier-Lapostolle said: "Outside the US, all of our export markets continued to grow volumes compared with the first six months of 2007."

But it added: "The US economic crisis and the ongoing fall in the euro-dollar exchange rate forces the group to remain cautious for the rest of 2008."