Fading coffee high? Recession hurts espresso maker Bialetti

MILAN Wed Nov 14, 2012 3:08pm EST

MILAN (Reuters) - Bialetti Industrie (BIA.MI), whose eponymous moka espresso machine embodies Italy's passion for coffee, is feeling the strain of a yearlong recession in its core domestic market.

The group, based in the northern Omegna valley home of kitchenware makers Lagostina and Alessi, reported sales of 110.3 million euros ($140 million) in the first nine months of the year, down 12.5 percent on a year ago.

Bialetti sells nearly 70 percent of its coffee machines and stainless steel Aeternum pots to Italian households, which are cutting spending or trading down for cheaper products.

To reduce losses, the maker of the legendary stove-top moka pot is expanding in the fast-growing single-cup brewers segment dominated by players such as Nestle's (NESN.VX) Nespresso and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc (GMCR.O).

Bialetti is also investing in multi-function espresso machines that use both coffee-filled discs and ground coffee.

The company said on Wednesday that sales of its branded coffee capsules rose 69.4 percent in the nine months to the end of September.

The group, which renegotiated its debt with creditor banks in January, reduced net loss to 1.5 million euros from 5.3 million euros a year ago mainly by cutting costs.

(Reporting by Antonella Ciancio; Editing by M.D. Golan)

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