UK-based sweets to soft drinks group, Cadbury Schweppes, posted a 12% rise in profits in 2001. The company reported underlying pre-tax profits before exceptionals of £886 million for the 52 weeks to the end of December against £792 million the year before.

This exceeded analysts' forecasts which ranged from £860 to £875m. Sales grew by 21% to £5.52 billion.

CEO John Sunderland said: "2002 has started satisfactorily and we will focus on innovation in all aspects of our business to accelerate growth. We remain committed to our financial targets."

Volumes at the company's North American subsidiary, which accounts for about 50% of group profits, rose by 4% in the fourth quarter and by 2% over the year though the company added that its flagship beverage brands in the region, Dr Pepper and Seven Up, had both faced severe competition.