Champagne sales rose by 1% but group revenue remained flat for Vranken-Pommery Monopole in 2008, the French firm has announced.

Total revenue dipped by 0.3% to EUR286m (US$371M)  for the 12 months, despite Champagne sales outperforming the market with a 1% rise to EUR268m, Vranken-Pommery Monopole said today (22 January).

"Against a difficult environment in 2008, our group is pleased and proud to have achieved growth of around 1% in Champagne for the year," said president and director general Paul-Francois Vranken.

Champagne sector sales by volume fell by 6% for the first 11 months of November, with steeper declines in the fourth quarter, according to figures released this week by the region's trade body, CIVC.

Vranken, which takes 94% of its revenue from Champagne sales, said that a fall in the UK during 2008 was offset by growth in Belgium, Japan, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Champagne export revenue rose by 1.5%, compared to 2007.

Sales crept up by 0.7% at home in France.

Vranken labelled the US a "shrinking market" but said the creation of a direct subsidiary in the country, together with higher market positioning for its Pommery brand, was expected to improve sales in 2009. The group has also established direct distribution in Italy.