In fine spirits

French spirits group Pernod Ricard has posted a 15% rise in full year net profit boosted by its Seagram brands such as Martell cognac and Chivas Regal scotch, which it bought in December 2001. 

Pernod's other brands Jameson Irish whiskey, Havana Club rum, Wyborowa vodka and Jacob's Creek wine helped to almost double earnings at its core wine and spirits unit to E710m from E344m. Net profit increased to E413m from E358m last year from a sales increase of 6.1% to E4.84bn. 

Profits boost 

Australian retailer Coles Myer said interim profit has been boosted by a strong performance at its Coles and Bi-Lo brands with improvements to its fresh produce offer, merchandising and service standards. 

For the half year to January 26 net profit rose 28% to A$272.4m on a sales increase of 5.5% to A$13.8bn. 

Chief executive John Fletcher said group sales in the first five weeks of the third quarter rose by 5.6% and he expected mid single digit sales growth for the food and liquor business "pending the commencement of a petrol offer for our customers". 


Interbrew pre-tax profit to December 31 dropped 14.2% to E665m from E775m the previous year, on sales which fell 5.5% to E6.9bn from E7.3bn in the wake of the sale of its Carling operations in the UK. 

New chief executive John Brock emphasised that the company needed to have a greater focus on organic volume growth and to look at integration and synergy capture "as they are the cornerstones of all successful consumer goods companies". 

Costs pledge 

Belgian retailer Delhaize said full-year group sales fell 3.3% to E20.7bn but that action in the fourth quarter to stem losses at its US operations Food Lion and Kash n' Karry had been successful. 

President and CEO Pierre-Olivier Beckers said Delhaize had closed 41 of its budget Food Lion stores in the US and pledged a further $100m of cost cutting this year. Sales at its up-market chain Hannaford's did well. 

Sales at Delhaize Belgium rose by 6.5% with 32 stores added during 2002.