Rising exports last year boosted total sales at Plzensky Prazdroj, the Czech Republic's largest brewer.

Plzensky Prazdroj, a unit of brewing giant of SABMiller, today (30 January) reported a 5% rise in volumes to 10.2m hectolitres. Exports leapt 29% to 2.2m hl, giving a boost to the brewer, which saw domestic beer sales remain flat at 8m hl.

Mike Short, Plzensky Prazdroj's managing director, said: "2005 was a year of overall market stability, however negatively affected by poor weather during the summer season contributing to the strong competitive challenges of the Czech market.

"The picture was enhanced, however, by a surge in international sales of our brands. This export growth was mainly in the countries that recently acceded to the EU, benefiting from the lifting of trade barriers that had existed previously as well as from our marketing efforts in those countries."

Short added that Plzensky Prazdroj's Velkopopovicky Kozel brand was showing "considerable growth", while the brewer's core brands, Pilsener Urquell and Gambrinus, had managed to increase sales in the Czech Republic.