Bongrain, the French cheese maker, has suffered from the downturn in the local economy in the first six months of the year, but said it had nonetheless continued to invest in marketing its products despite the inevitable erosion of its margins.
The company said that sales were down 2.2 per cent to €1.87 billion during the first six months, in particular due to tough conditions in the French market, where consumer spending levels continued to fall.
Sales in other European countries were described as satisfactory.
Operating profits were down 8.7 per cent to €47.8 million, while the sustained investment in marketing - and the weakening of the US dollar against the euro - meant that the operating margin was down from 2.7 per cent to 2.6 per cent during the half.
Net profits were maintained, however, slipping just 0.2 per cent to €22.5 million.
The second half of the year looks unlikely to help Bongrain return to profit growth. The company said that sales in the first few weeks of the half had been badly hot by the hot weather - which was not conducive to increased cheese sales - and the continued political and economic instability in many parts of the world made it unlikely that the second six months of the year would be any better than the first.
Nonetheless, Bongrain continues to expand, recently acquiring the German cheese business of Unilever Bestfoods to become the leading cheese supplier in that country.