Vincor International, Canada's largest producer of wine and related products, today reported record net sales of $294.9m and net income of $14.3m or $0.97 per share for the year-ended March 31, 2001.

This represents a 9% increase over net sales of $269.7m and an 8% increase over net income of $13.2m for the prior year. Operating income for the 12 month period was reported at $35.6m representing a 25% increase on the previous year.

However, interest expense grew to $13.5m in the current year, up from $4.9m, resulting primarily from increased debt levels used to fund the acquisition of the R.H. Phillips Winery completed in October 2000, the company said.

"In fiscal 2001 Vincor continued its record of growth while successfully establishing a significant US presence through the acquisition of the R.H. Phillips winery," said Donald L. Triggs, Vincor's president and CEO.

"This key acquisition provides Vincor with an all important US national sales force capability, and a solid base for integrating future acquisitions, in addition to an enhanced portfolio of super and ultra premium wines.

"We are delighted with the performance of Phillips in its first six months as part of the Vincor Group, it has exceeded our expectations. These achievements greatly contribute to our strategic goal of making Vincor a truly global wine company with production in key wine regions and distribution of our products to all major wine markets worldwide."

Vincor's principal sales growth the company said in a statement is due, in large measure, to increased sales volume resulting from Vincor's successful acquisition and integration strategy.

In the first quarter of fiscal 2001, Vincor acquired two super premium wine producers: The Sumac Ridge Estate Winery and Hawthorne Mountain Vineyards Ltd., both based in the Okanagan valley of British Columbia. In the third quarter, Vincor acquired the California-based R.H. Phillips Winery Ltd. These additions, plus the company's ongoing development of its core portfolio, saw premium wine sales increase 15% year-on-year, to represent 49% of Vincor's total table wine sales in 2001.