Sales at French tropical timber group Rougier fell by 30.2% during the first half of 2009 compared with a year ago, the company announced.

The company recorded €61m sales, with the core Africa and international trade business showing a 28.4% drop to €47.1m. Rougier is not releasing earnings information until September but said it expects to post an operating loss for the period.

Rougier’s second-quarter sales were virtually identical to the first quarter. The company said the fall in business was due to adjustment in capacities in response to low global demand, with highly cautious customers destocking over a long period.

The level of log sales was up against sawn timber, partly due to Rougier’s closure of two industrial sawn timber units during the period.

Log sales accounted for 36.4% of sales, compared with 27.6% a year ago. Business is being driven by Asian demand, fuelled by resurgent domestic construction markets.

Sawn timber revenues were hit by Rougier’s production curtailments, with sales down by 43.8%, though trade stabilised at a low level during the second quarter. Sawn timber represented 39.7% of overall business.

Plywood sales fell by 27.6%, with FSC-certified products providing a ray of light in a difficult market.