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Sales drop at Fortune Brands

Published:  23 July, 2008

Fortune Brands has seen net sales drop by 5% in the first quarter with its spirits portfolio hampered by distributor inventories.

Jim Beam, Courvoisier and Teacher's whisky all experienced net sales growth in international markets but were down on first quarter figures for the previous year.

Net sales for the group in the first quarter were $1.81 billion (913million).

In the first quarter of 2008 spirits sales equated to $515.3m (261.3m) compared to $519.4m (263.4m) - a downward change of 0.8%.

Bruce Carbonari said supply issues were responsible for the mediocre spirits sales figures.

He added: "While our reported spirits sales were relatively flat, shipments of spirits were adversely impacted in the US by larger-than-usual seasonal reductions in distributor inventories that don't reflect the health of our brands in the marketplace.

"Had distributor inventory movements been consistent with the prior year, our worldwide spirits sales would have been solidly higher."

There was a sales increase towards the premium end of Fortune Brands' spirits portfolio, Carbonari concluded.