MOSCOW, April 5 (Reuters) - Russian vodka firm Synergy said on Friday that first-quarter sales of its own brands fell by 30 percent after an increase in excise tax prompted retailers to bring purchases forward to the previous quarter.
Russia has been tightening regulation of alcohol sales to curb drinking, with measures including an increase in the minimum vodka price, a ban on advertising in all media and tax increases.
The excise tax on spirits has risen by about a third, prompting distributors and retailers to buy additional volumes in the fourth quarter before the increase came into force at the beginning of 2013.
Synergy, maker of Beluga and Russky Lyod vodka brands, said sales of its own products amounted to 1.9 million decilitres in the January-to-March period, compared to 2.7 million in the same period of 2012.
Chief Executive Alexander Mechetin said he was cautiously optimistic that sales would rise in full-year 2013. (Reporting by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by Megan Davies and Tom Pfeiffer)