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Nordic drinks group Altia saw sales rise 5.1% in the first three months of 2021, bolstered by strong spirits growth in Sweden, Norway and Denmark.
Altia, which produces Koskenkorva vodka and Larsen Cognac, reported net sales of €71.7 million (US$86.6m) for the period between January and March 2021. Sales were 5.1% higher than the same period in 2020.
In Scandinavia, sales increased by 9.9% to €24.2m (US$29.2m), and the group’s industrial sector saw sales rise 9.4% to €24.5m (US$29.6m).
In Finland and exports market, Altia’s sales dropped 3.5% in the three months to the end of March 2021. The group said the regions had been ‘more affected by the Covid-19 restrictions’ and that sales in the monopolies had been insufficient to offset declines in the on-trade and travel retail.
Total spirits sales for Q1 were valued at €26m (US$21.4m), an increase of 6.3% over 2020 levels. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation reached €4.6m (US$5.6m) and accounted for 6.4% of net sales.
Pekka Tennilä, Altia CEO, said first quarter sales were “solid”.
Tennilä said: “In the Scandinavia segment, net sales grew in all markets, in Sweden, Norway, and Denmark. The growth was driven by strong sales in the monopolies offsetting the decline in on-trade. By product categories, growth was strongest in spirits.
“The Finland and exports segment has been more affected by the Covid-19 restrictions. Net sales declined from the previous year due to the significant sales drop in travel retail and on-trade. However, in Finland, sales increased driven by monopoly channel growth.”
Uncertainty in the economy
Looking ahead, Altia warned that its recovery through 2021 depended on the level and extent of government restrictions and recommendations. The group said that ‘uncertainty in the economy and operating environment is high, and the risk of an economic slowdown is high’.
Tennilä added: “Forecasting the recovery of the operating environment is difficult as this depends largely on the development of Covid-19, the progress of vaccinations, and changes in consumer behaviour. Due to these uncertainties predictability is weak for the full year 2021.”
In the first half of 2021, Altia projected that Covid-19 could continue to impact travel retail, exports and on-trade. It said the situation was ‘expected to stabilise earliest after the summer period’.
Last year, Altia announced it would merge with Nordic producer Arcus to create a new wine and spirits company, called Anora Group.