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No holiday cheer for Remy Cointreau

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Paris (AFP)

French spirits group Remy Cointreau said Friday that sales slumped last quarter, while its new management team suspended annual forecasts, leaving its shares on the rocks in morning trading.

The October-December quarter is traditionally a strong one as consumers stock up for holiday celebrations, but Remy Cointreau's sales tumbled 9.8 percent to 290.2 million euros ($320.7 million).

While the group's figures are still showing the impact of the withdrawal from several distribution contracts in Europe and the United States for partner brands, its own brands also reported slowing sales.

Over the nine months of Remy Cointreau's non-standard reporting year, overall sales were down 4.1 percent to 814 million, with own brands showing modest 1.6 percent growth.

The flagship Remy Martin cognac unit turned in a small increase but once currency changes are stripped out they in fact dipped, in part due to a drop in tourism in Hong Kong due to the pro-democracy demonstrations.

But "these figures mask continued strong performance in China," it said.

Meanwhile, the company's new management suspended its previous guidance for stable operating profit for the year. It said a new roadmap for attaining its strategic vision would be presented along with annual results in June,

Shares in Remy Cointreau fell as much as 10.4 percent in morning trading on the Paris stock exchange whose benchmark CAC 40 index was up 1.3 percent.

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