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French spirits giant Rémy Cointreau has posted annual sales growth of 7.9% driven by strong global sales of its key premium brands.

In the year to 31 March 2019 sales totalled €1.22bn, a rise of 7.9% on a reported basis and 7.8% on an organic, constant currency basis.

Overall sales growth was boosted by strong growth in its House of Rémy Martin brands, which grew by 11.9% thanks to strong performance in Asia, the US, UK, Middle East and travel retail.

In particular the growth of Rémy Martin XO and international development of LOUIS XIII helped the division achieve price/mix growth of 6% while maintaining strong volume growth of 6%.

Its liqueurs & spirits division posted organic growth of 4%, driven by strong performance of the Maison Cointreau and St-Rémy brandy, while The Botanist gin and Whisky continued to show growth.

However, organic sales decreased by 12.7% over the period in its partner brands, largely due to the termination of new partner brand distribution contracts.

Overall operating profit grew 11.3% to €263.6m on a reported basis and by 14.2% on an organic basis.

Profit growth was helped by “remarkable momentum” in its $50-plus “exceptional spirits”, cmbined with cost controls which offset investments in communication and distribution structures.

As a result operating margin increased by 1.3 percentage points to 21.7% to reach its three year operating margin target one year early.

Looking forward, the group said it retains its ambition to become the world leader in high-end spirits, despite an “uncertain economic and geopolitical context”.

Despite its strong increase in profitability in recent years, the group remains ambitious regarding the potential of its operating margins in the medium term while also continuing to invest significantly behind its brands and distribution network.

It forecasts that 2019/20 will unfold within the expected framework of its medium-term objectives.

However, this will also include the termination of distribution contracts for partner brands (in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the United States), which are estimated to have an impact of €56m on sales and €5m on current operating profits.

The group’s shares have edged back 1.7% to €120.30 in early trading.

Morning update

On the markets this morning The FTSE 100 is up 0.5% to 7,257pts so far today.

Early risers include Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), up 3.3% to 341p, Marston’s (MARS), up 2.6% to 112.7p, Imperial Brands (IMB), up 1.7% to 1,993.8p and FeverTree (FEVR), up 1.6% to 2,684p.

Fallers so far today include Sainsbury’s (SBRY), down 3.4% to 195.4p, Hilton Food Group (HFG), down 1.9% to 955.3p and Premier Foods (PFD), down 1.2% to 34.5p.

Yesterday in the City

The FTSE 100 continued its modest recovery from recent falls, edging up 0.1% yesterday back to 7,220.2pts.

A number of internationally focussed fmcg stocks have been boosted by the weakness of the pound and predictions that sterling is unlikely to recover the ground it has lost any time soon.

FTSE 100 fmcg companies on the rise yesterday included Associated British Foods (ABF), up 2.6% to 2,575p, Ocado (OCDO), up 2.4% to 1,139.5p, Coca-Cola HBC (CCH), up 2% to 2,899p, Imperial Brands (IMB), up 1.2% to 1,961p, Diageo (DGE), up 1.2% to 3,336p and Unilever (ULVR), up 0.9% to 4,858p.

Other risers yesterday included Majestic Wine (WINE), up 4.9% to 280p, PureCircle (PURE), up 2.4% to 271.8p, FeverTree (FEVR), up 2.2% to 2,642p, Greggs (GRG), up 2% to 2,204p, Total Produce (TOT), up 1.8% to 139.5p and Britvic (BVIC), up 1.8% to 917.5p.

Yesterday’s fallers included Bakkavor (BAKK), down 5.1% to 123.4p, Hotel Chocolat (HOTC), down 5% to 330p, PayPoint (PAY), down 2.4% to 1,044p, Hilton Food Group (HFG), down 2.2% to 974p and Just Eat (JE), down 1.5% to 594.4p.

Forecourt retailer Applegreen (APGN), fell back 0.4% to 460p after announcing trading in the first five months of 2019 had been in line with expectations.