V&S Absolut Spirits has opened a new distillery in Nöbbelöv, just outside Åhus. The move is the result of a decision taken in 1999 by the board of directors of V&S Group to invest SKK320m to meet increased demand.

In 1999, the year V&S Group made the investment decision, 60m litres of Absolut Vodka were sold. Last year, sales of Absolut rose by 5% to 76.1m litres, the company said.

It added that the first quarter of 2005 is pointing in the same direction. Sales for V&S Absolut Spirits, which includes Absolut and Level Vodka, rose 8% in the first three months this year.

"We're increasing capacity to meet the increased demand from around the world for Absolut," said Ketil Eriksen, president for the V&S Absolut Spirits business area. "With the new distillery in Nöbbelöv we're increasing our capacity from today's level of 87.5m litres to 125m litres of vodka a year. Because of this, our needs are also increasing for winter wheat from the local farmers in Skåne, the southern province of Sweden."

When the new plant is fully operational V&S Absolut Spirits capacity will also increase from 100m bottles a year today to 143m. The final production will continue to take place in Åhus.