Valora chief executive Peter Wüst is to assume direct management control of its core Swiss retail division, Valora Retail Switzerland, following a fall in first-half profits.

Manfred Zipp, who had been the chief executive of Valora Retail, is to leave Valora by mutual agreement, the company announced.

Valora is holding media and analysts' conferences today (28 August) to give a detailed account of its interim results and outline measures to improve profitability at the group's kiosk business.

On Friday, the company reported net sales of CHF1.4bn (US$1.2bn) for the first half of 2007, on a par with last year. However, group operating income for the first six months fell by CHF23m to CHF17m, while net income fell by CHF15m to CHF12m.

The company attributed the drop in profits to the disappointing performance at its kiosk division, which represents around a third of turnover.

Valora has said that while while it expects an improvement in operating results for the second six months of 2007, it will not be able to make up for the fall in earnings in the first half of the year.