Campari braces for full impact of coronavirus as aperitif sales stallCampari braces for full impact of coronavirus as aperitif sales stall
FILE PHOTO: Campari bottles are seen in a bar downtown Milan

By Francesca Landini

MILAN (Reuters) – Drinks group Campari warned on Tuesday that it will feel a more severe impact from the coronavirus crisis in coming quarters, after reporting a 5% drop in sales between January and March.

Campari’s sales in Italy, its second-biggest market, fell 24% on an organic basis in the first quarter, the company said on Tuesday, and global consumption of bright orange aperitif Aperol was flat after double-digit growth last year.

“The group expects its performance to be more impacted in the second quarter and the beginning of the third, the peak season for the high margin and on-premise skewed aperitif

business,” Campari said in a statement.

The maker of red bitter Campari and Aperol said first-quarter sales fell 5.3% on an organic basis as lockdowns imposed to contain the spread of the virus dented demand for its aperitifs, especially in Italy.

Total sales dropped to 360 million euros in the first three months compared with 370 million euros a year earlier. Global sales of Aperol fell 0.2% in the first quarter.

In Italy – which accounts for nearly one fifth of Campari’s revenue – bars and restaurants have been shut since the beginning of March. They are expected to open again on June 1 and are now only allowed to prepare food and drinks for delivery or take-away services.

Aperol, the key ingredient for the popular Spritz cocktail, is Campari’s best-selling product representing roughly one fifth of its annual sales. The United States is the group’s biggest market.

With the gradual lifting of the restrictive measures across countries, the company said that the negative impact of the coronavirus was expected to lessen later in the year.

Shares in Campari turned negative after the results and fell as much as 2.3% before trimming losses. At 1005 GMT the stock was flat at 6.86 euros. They have fallen 15.6% since the start of this year.

The group also said it had signed the deal for the acquisition of 80% of French Champagne brand Lallier for 21.8 million euros.

(Reporting by Francesca Landini, editing by Giulia Segreti and Susan Fenton)