Russian juice and dairy giant Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods has reported a 15.6% rise in nine-month sales to US$684.6m.

The company reported net income of $20.8m for the nine months to 30 September 2003, a decline of 36% year-on-year. EBITDA, meanwhile, fell 4.7% to $69m. Operating income was down 23.3% to $44.8m. Nine-month sales volumes rose 7.2%.

"We believe that, with our in-depth knowledge of the Russian market and a skilled management team, we will continue to grow our business successfully, despite increasing competition and growing costs," said Sergei Plastinin, CEO of Wimm-Bill-Dann.

"In the dairy segment we are concentrating on productivity increases and on launching more value added products, especially in the regions, while our efforts in the juice segment are focused on introducing innovative products and strengthening our distribution system. Our key goal looking ahead is to improve our bottom-line while reducing operational expenses in the near future," Plastinin added.

Wimm-Bill-Dann's merger talks with French dairy group Danone recently broke down after the two parties failed to reach an agreement.