Saku Ölletehas has seen first half profits leap on the back of a slight lift in sales.

The Estonian brewery said today (4 September) that profits in the six month-period were up by 81% year-on-year to EEK34.9m (US$2.8m). Sales, meanwhile, were up by 15% at EEK350m.

For the second quarter of 2006, Saku said sales reached EEK225m with net profit totalling EEK46.8m. The company posted a net loss in the first quarter of this year of EEK12m following the payment of EEK24m of income tax on dividends.

The company credited the strong figures to improved sales in all product categories and a clear upmarket shift in the beer sector.

"Saku Ölletehas ended the first six months of 2006 with excellent results, including a sturdy operating profit," the company's acting chairman, Janno Veskimae, said. "Compared to a year ago, we expanded our market share in the category of beer even further, primarily thanks to the superb performance of our premium beers and successful product development."

Saku Ölletehas is majority-owned by Baltic Beverages Holding, the Eastern European joint venture between Carlsberg and Scottish & Newcastle.