Maxxium Worldwide (Maxxium), the global wine and spirits distributor, today reported a fall in operating profit for the full year to €48m, compared to €51m last year, as sales were hit by the strong euro.

The company, jointly owned by V&S, Jim Beam Brands, Remy Cointreau and Edrington, said turnover fell to €1702m from €1728m a year before as total net sales dropped to €1371m from €1383m.

However, at a constant exchange rate, Maxxium said core brand sales grew 8%, while total net sales were up 5%.

Roland van Bommel, chief executive of the company, said: "Maxxium Worldwide continued to make good progress in 2003. Although net sales fell slightly, this fall was entirely driven by the strength of the Euro. At constant exchange rates, total net sales grew by almost 5%, while our core brands showed solid growth of 8%. Significant progress was made in the reduction of working capital with a consequent reduction in debt, and with the roll out of our new business and IT platform."