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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October, 2003, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
US sales lift Allied Domecq
Malibu bottle
Brands such as Malibu helped drive US growth
Allied Domecq, the UK drinks giant that recently lost a takeover battle for Australia's Peter Lehmann Wines, has seen its annual profits rise 3% to 495m.

The Bristol-based company said a strong performance in the US had helped it ride out difficulties in Europe.

It said growth of core brands such as Malibu rum had helped raise trading profits in North America by 20% to 649m.

But trade in Italy, Germany and France had been "extremely difficult" as consumers spent less on premium spirits.

The company said its UK business had enjoyed a good year, with market share gains in off-licence trade driven by Teacher's whisky, Courvoisier, Malibu and Tia Maria.

'Five year plan'

Allied said it was still exploring "a number of options" for its Australian wine business, but said any acquisitions would have to meet the company's strict financial criteria and create shareholder value.

"We're not going to pay silly prices for assets which is why we walked away from Peter Lehmann," finance director Graham Hetherington said.

"We've got a five-year plan in place for our wine business and we're not going to jeopardise that by making risky acquisitions and overpaying for assets."

Allied has been steadily building its wine portfolio and has spent over 1.2bn on assets such as Montana, the New Zealand winemaker, and the Perrier Jouet/Mumm champagne brands.

But Tuesday's news failed to impress investors, with shares in the group 4% down at 384.75p in morning trading.




SEE ALSO:
Allied quits race for wine maker
13 Oct 03  |  Business
Allied spurned in Aussie wine bid
02 Oct 03  |  Business
Allied bids for Aussie wine maker
22 Sep 03  |  Business
Allied Domecq toasts profits growth
01 Sep 03  |  Business
Merger creates world wine giant
17 Jan 03  |  Business


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